TRENTON, NJ – With the support of Acting Commissioner of Education David Hespe, the New Jersey State Board of Education has re-adopted curriculum standards in seven K-12 subject areas, including the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.
“I applaud Gov. Christie and the State Board of Education for taking the steps necessary to ensure that our students are gaining the knowledge and skills that will allow them to successfully compete in a global economy and contribute to the growth and well-being of our communities,” Hespe said. “I also thank the dozens of representatives from the state’s education community, the business sector, higher education, and interested citizens for their participation and suggestions.”
Wednesday’s reaffirmation of the state’s core educational standards is the final step of a five-year long process in establishing new learning standards that detail what students should know before they leave high school.
State Board President Mark W. Biedron said the latest approval of “new” standards is in line with New Jersey’s long history of setting high goals for its’ students.
“Today’s re-adoption of six content areas and the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards maintain the state’s commitment to providing schools with curriculum frameworks that convey higher-level skills and advanced learning,” Biedron said. “The Next Generation Science Standards will enable schools to take science to the next level and to challenge and inspire students to embrace scientific inquiry both in and out of the classroom.”
Outside of a change to in the New Jersey’s science lessons, the state has identified nine distinct content areas in its K-12 Core Curriculum Content Standards that must be taught in public schools. The Board re-adopted standards in seven of the areas: Visual and Performing Arts; Comprehensive Health and Physical Education; Science; Social Studies; World Languages; English Language Arts; and Mathematics. No changes were proposed to the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards, as the State Board of Education had fully reconsidered these standards in 2010 and elected to adopt New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in these areas that reflect the Common Core State Standards.
As part of the five-year review process, the State Board today also re-adopted revisions to the Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards. The preschool language and math revisions now match the Common Core standards for kindergarten; include greater clarity regarding what children should know by the end of the 4-year-old preschool year; incorporate additional examples of teaching practices; provide an aligned framework that is consistent through third grade; and embed the use of technology in teaching practices. Added to the preschool standards were "Approaches to Learning," which include behaviors – such as initiative and persistence – that show how children learn, not just what they learn.
The two K-12 content areas not voted on today – Technology and 21st Century Life and Careers Standards – will be put through a review process later in the year.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by a consortium of 26 states, including New Jersey. The NGSS were established after research found a solid foundation of math and science is needed to build the nation’s capacity for economic growth, and the current level of science instruction, if not improved, may leave millions of young Americans unprepared to succeed in a global economy.
The NGSS are designed to promote hands-on experience and experimentation to deepen students’ understanding of core concepts, rather than reward students simply for memorizing facts and formulas. For instance, while students previously would have been given an established model or experiment and taught how to use it to observe scientific phenomena, the new science standards may ask students to design a model on their own. Additional information about the NGSS can be found at www.nextgenscience.org.
“New Jersey’s performance standards will build the foundation for high academic expectations to ensure that all of our students are nationally and internationally competitive,” Hespe said. “As a result, our students will graduate from college with higher-level skills that will enable them to create a well-prepared workforce that is necessary for a thriving economy.”