Continuity of Learning
It is the mission of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to support schools, educators and districts to ensure all of New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students have equitable access to high-quality education and achieve academic excellence. The New Jersey Student Learning Standards define what students need to know and be able to do and serve as the foundation of our high-quality educational system. By delivering standards-based curriculum and instruction using the results of standards-based assessments to customize and strengthen instruction, New Jersey schools create a cycle of continuous improvement. This remains the prevailing theory of action, despite the 2019-2020 school year ending with schools serving students virtually, as a result of the closure of schools ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Continuity of Learning section is tempered by the recognition that uncertainties remain regarding the degree to which districts will be able to return students to brick and mortar education. Progress along the State’s multi-stage restart strategy will continue to dictate the broad parameters under which sectors of New Jersey’s economy and society may reopen, including New Jersey schools. This section recognizes that New Jersey school districts vary widely in context, including physical, organizational, and fiscal differences, which might require different instructional delivery models in districts across the state. The standards and considerations in this section are designed to consider that range of potential delivery models.
This section also anticipates the high likelihood that many students made less than one full year of academic growth during the 2019-2020 school year. The move to a fully virtual learning environment happened quickly and created significant challenges for staff and students, particularly students already considered at-risk prior to the pandemic. Districts should work closely with their stakeholders to ensure decisions are made collaboratively and transparently and prioritize safely returning students who are better suited with in-person instruction. This may include, but is not limited to, students with disabilities, English language learners (ELL), homeless youth, and low-income students.
Curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional learning and career and technical education (CTE) are all constructs that can be adjusted to serve as levers for equity.
Except where otherwise indicated, the provisions of this section are “Additional Considerations” that may help districts in considering ways to adhere to the anticipated minimum reopening standards.