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UNDERSTANDING STANDARDS

In 1995, the Department of Education set in motion a massive standards development process with the input of educators, business, higher education and parents/citizens. After much input and intensive development and revision, the original Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) that define what every child should know and be able to do upon graduation from high school were adopted in May 1996 by the State Board of Education.

Prior to the adoption of the standards, New Jersey’s 600-plus school districts created their own curricula based on local goals and decisions. There were wide variations in educational programs among the districts. Parents who moved to another community often felt that their children were at a disadvantage because the school programs were so different.

The original standards comprised the following seven academic areas: language arts literacy; mathematics; science; social studies; visual and performing arts; world languages; and comprehensive health and physical education. The original standards were revised and readopted in 2003. Two new areas -- technological literacy and career education and consumer, family and life skills -- were added in 2004. The state’s standards also meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The standards and related indicators set the educational expectations in each subject area for grades K-12. School districts now have a common core of what must be taught at each grade level. Local boards of education and administrations were responsible for designing new curricula or realigning previous curricula to incorporate all of the standards. Curriculum documents for every aspect of the standards should be available at school districts’ business offices. A mandated five-year review process is built into the original standards document.

To assist districts with curriculum development and implementation, DOE has numerous resources available on its Web site.

No child is to be exempt from learning the CCCS. If programs need to be adjusted to accomplish this for some students, districts are expected to make the necessary changes. Parents and guardians are children’s strongest advocates. DOE encourages all parents to become part of the decision-making process in local districts and to work closely with teachers to assure that children are learning what the standards require.

More information is available at Academic Standards, and No Child Left Behind.