SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Board of Education has adopted a policy under which Hilltop City public school students will be permitted to take courses outside the traditional high school setting through the use of internet courses -- and other means of independent study -- aimed at helping them achieve the Core Curriculum Content Standards for promotion and graduation.

According to the New Jersey Department of Education, the option for alternative study, or Option Two:

“Permits district boards of education to determine and establish curricular activities or programs aimed at achieving the Core Curriculum Content Standards for promotion and graduation purposes. Option Two serves as an alternative to traditional high school courses and involves in-depth experiences that may be provided by school district personnel or instructors not employed by the school district. Option Two may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following: interdisciplinary or theme-based programs, independent study, magnet programs, student exchange programs, distance learning, internships, community service, co-curricular or extra-curricular programs, and/or other structured learning experiences. In addition, N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1ii(3) permits district boards of education to recognize successful completion of an accredited college course that assures achievement of the knowledge and skills delineated in the Core Curriculum Content Standards or includes learning that builds on and goes beyond the standards.”

Under Summit’s approach, students will be able to pursue Option Two by, for example, taking college or Internet courses (such as one already offered on financial literacy) and summer courses -- although those offered under Option Two must be courses taken for the first time, not those used to make up for courses usually taken during the regular school year.

At a previous board meeting, board policy committee chairman David Dietze noted the policy had been revised to “cap” the number of allowed credits for internet courses at 7.5, rather than five.

In addition, principals will be given the power to allow students to take courses offering credits above the “cap.” However, staff and administrators will make sure that Option Two courses do not overwhelm the other portions of a student’s program, and that Option Two courses taken in conjunction with Summit public school study programs are properly assessed.

On another matter, district officials at the meeting said they have taken several steps to assure that students are not missing out on normal course work when time is taken away from regular classes to participate in the newly-instituted standardized PARCC tests now required by the state and administered this year for the first time in New Jersey.

Summit High School Principal Paul Sears said he has spoken at staff meetings -- as well as individually to teachers, counselors, and students -- to make sure students do not fall behind due to time taken for PARCC tests, and that they are not overwhelmed with extra course work once the tests are completed.

In response to a question from Dietze, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Julie Glazer said there is no way that she could tell from figures, given her about those students not present for PARCC tests, whether time missed was because of a concern about not being able to complete other course work.

Figures on those students, she said, may have been included in an “other” category that enveloped other reasons for not taking the tests.

Makeup tests for those students not present when their classmates take the March PARCC examinations will be given during the middle of next week, and all rounds of the March tests are expected to be completed in Summit by March 27, according to Glazer. There also will be a second round of PARCC testing at the end of the current school year.

The assistant superintendent emphasized that the PARCC tests are mandated by the state and, therefore, there are no formal “opt-out” provisions.

Responding to a question from board vice president Katherine Kalin, Glazer said PARCC test results would not have a bearing on college admissions for three years. She added that Summit district officials did not expect to receive the results from this year’s PARCC tests until October of this year.

In his first school board meeting since assuming the reins as superintendent of schools, June Chang noted the city’s schools are transitioning to Gmail for their e-mail communications, and email addresses now will include “@Summit,k12,nj.us”,leaving out the “fc.” before the “Summit” in the address. The “fc” stood for “first class,” the title of the previous e-mail system.

Chang added that the school district now has an Instagram account under “summitschoolsnj” that will be used to publicize many school events.

He also noted that 16 students, working with public school staff members Benjamin Green and Cynthia Vitale, had competed in the regional science fair recently held at Rutgers University, and nine of them had won awards in the competition.

 

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