What to know about seven topics this year


New Jersey public school students will see new lessons and approaches in seven subject areas this year, designed by state-appointed education experts to prepare students to thrive and adapt to life in “a globally interconnected”.

Public and charter schools will begin implementing the standards enacted by the state Department of Education and adopted by the state board in June 2020. Revised from what they were in 2014, the new standards serve as minimum expectations that students must meet, beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

School districts have had two years – longer than usual, due to the disruptions of the pandemic – to absorb and understand the standards before writing and implementing the program locally.

Even though much of the debate in New Jersey has focused on overall health and physical education standards and changes to sex ed classes in health classes, parents and students should also be aware. on the lookout for many more changes in other key subjects.

Check with your school district’s and school board’s curriculum office to see where your school is at, as most new curriculum should have been written over the summer and approved by school boards before teachers do not introduce lessons in the classroom.

Because the resources and standards provided by the state are intentionally broad, parents and communities can play an important role in managing expectations.

What’s new and what’s changed

What’s new? Starting in September, look for courses in civics, climate change, computer programming and design thinking at all levels, as well as “literacy for life” courses for future citizens of the 22nd century. Media Arts with an emphasis on digital media was added to the four subjects offered under Visual and Performing Arts, which already included Dance, Music, Drama and Visual Arts. Changes should also occur in the way students learn world languages ​​and music.

What changed ? “Life Literacy and Key Skills” has been added to the Career Readiness Standards. And the old technology standards have been renamed and revamped as “Computer Science and Design Thinking.”

English and Maths standards follow a different schedule, so they have remained the same this year.

Overall, there are new standards in seven core subjects: Science, Social Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, World Languages, Computing and Design Thinking, Health and Physical Education, Career Readiness, Life Literacy and key skills.

Legislators, in addition to the State Board of Education, help determine what students learn in school. Civics for middle school students was made mandatory by Laura Wooten’s law, named after a Princeton resident who was the state’s and nation’s longest-serving election officer and signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in 2021. The The state Department of Education was also required to provide resources. to schools on teaching diversity and inclusion, according to another law signed by Murphy in 2021.

How Schools Write Curricula

“We are doing a cross between the 2014 and 2020 standards,” said Paramus Schools Superintendent Sean Adams to determine what has changed in the standards and what already meets those minimum expectations.

Paramus School District Superintendent Sean Adams seen in 2015.

“Generally, we would spend 2020-2021 learning the new standards. Then we would spend the next year proactively identifying and implementing a framework for the program that would frame those standards and provide direction for our program team to begin to put in place what it will be in the summer, before the board meeting,” he said.

The Paramus School Board met on August 22 to approve the program for the upcoming school year. “That doesn’t mean they’re done,” Adams said. “Now that the revised program has been approved, we just move on.”

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The curriculum, said Tim Donohue, assistant superintendent of schools for Paramus, is a “continuing and living document” that can also change during the school year. “We are ensuring that supports are in place for teachers and students in terms of resources, teaching strategies and consistency between buildings and classrooms.”

Paramus teachers, Adams said, will review the effectiveness of the implementation and see how it progresses. Teachers will meet over the course of the year to voice what they think needs to be addressed, he said, and even after lessons are written, teachers are constantly assessing whether any changes need to be made.

Teachers and administrators will meet to review materials during the school year and discuss if anything needs to be changed or if additional resources are needed, Adams said.

“It all becomes a kind of package which then becomes the basis that the curriculum team uses over the summer to write the new curriculum, which is then approved by the board,” he said. declared. These groups become the curriculum teams that end up writing during the summer. In some subjects, writing the curriculum takes several weeks; in others, only one.

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“Ultimately, the program is ours and unique to Paramus,” Adams said. Paramus uses resources offered by the Bergen County Curriculum Consortium, a group of districts that collaborate to identify resources and best practices during curriculum design, but the final lesson plans students see in classrooms are created by the school district.

Paramus schools provide professional development for teachers on integrating new artistic work, reflecting diverse ethnic, racial and cultural perspectives, into their visual and performing arts curricula, Donohue said. The new programs also integrate social and emotional learning into the arts, so that skills such as responsible decision-making and social and self-awareness can play a role in creative self-expression in the arts.

World language curricula have been modified to include topics that were once part of advanced level courses at all school levels. Sixth and seventh graders at Paramus will now have a year’s worth of civic units distributed across their social studies curriculum.

The Paramus School District has approached sex education standards “the same way we do in other school areas,” Donohue said. “We compared it with previous standards, identified what is similar, what is different.” The district will send letters to parents about what they can expect their children to learn in sex-ed classes, Adams said.

He said he watched numerous recordings of board meetings and policy forums where sex education was raised in the context of parental rights.

The common theme he saw, Adams said, is that “from standards to curriculum to what actually happens in the classroom, there is a huge void. And parents can see the standards, they can see the curriculum, but they can’t see the classroom. And so they don’t know day to day what’s really going on. And they want to know.

Materials for educators

Materials for educators to implement the new standards.

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