Commissioner of Education: Christopher Cerf
Primary Point of Contact: Michael Heinz — Science Coordinator, STEM
Partner Organizations: NJ STEM Education Council; Liberty Science Center
Background: New Jersey requires students to complete fifteen credits of lab-based science courses, including biology, chemistry, physics or environmental science and one additional lab-based science course. The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for Science are divided by grade bands with science practices defined for the end of grades 4, 8, and 12, and the content standards in physical science, life science, and earth systems science defined for the end of grades 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12. The New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) assesses science in grades 4 and 8, with 40% of the test evaluating Life Science, 30% Physical Science, and 30% Earth Science. In high school, the New Jersey Biology Competency Test assesses students in biology the same year a biology course is completed. The current New Jersey standards were adopted in 2009, and were the first set of NJ standards to incorporate science practices, which will serve as a segue to the NGSS. The next scheduled review period for New Jersey’s science standards is in 2014, however the administrative code allows for standards review at an “as needed” basis, and release of the NGSS could be a reason to review and adopt standards earlier than scheduled.
Commitment: New Jersey has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards and its position as a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Additionally, New Jersey is working on developing a STEM Education Innovation campaign in order to pool resources and create a robust system for professional development, all of which will be useful in the adoption of the NGSS. Furthermore, the inclusion of science practices in New Jersey’s 2009 science standards has the potential to serve as a bridge between New Jersey’s 2004 standards and the anticipated structure of the NGSS, therefore the state would be well positioned for adoption.
STEM Involvement: The STEM Education Innovation campaign, mentioned above, is the state’s most current initiative regarding STEM involvement. Through this campaign New Jersey hopes to work with local communities and organizations to coordinate STEM related efforts and establish funding for strong professional development. The goal of this campaign is the creation of a STEM Council and a STEM Education Network which will continue to advance STEM education, professional development, and resources throughout the state. The National Research Council, National Governor’s Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have worked to map out this campaign, and the work of the future Council and Network will take it into action.
Alliances and Infrastructure: New Jersey is working to maintain and establish partnerships throughout the state to assist with science and STEM education. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has a longstanding partnership with the Liberty Science Center (LSC) which allows the state access to both human and digital resources. LSC’s digital learning network has provided NJDOE great access to technology including the ability to webcast conferences, meetings, and technical assistance conversations, create and post YouTube/TeachTube videos, host webinars, and create and post podcasts, blogs, and tweets. This invaluable resource has been of great assistance to NJDOE and will continue to do so to assist with the adoption and implementation of the NGSS. Additionally, the Office of STEM manages list serves comprised of teachers, administrators, and professional organizations around the state which serve as vehicles for communication on numerous math and science issues. These list serves continue to grow exponentially and currently have bi-weekly distributions. The creation of the STEM Council and Network will also serve as a method for interacting with organizations, and will hopefully allow for growth and expansion of science related partnerships.
Check back soon for more information on New Jersey's state team and implementation plans