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Gear Up


In September of 2012, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) launched the NJ GEAR UP Curriculum Development Initiative (CDI) to support NJ GEAR UP programs throughout the state in developing and implementing a college readiness curriculum that promotes effective instruction for low-income students within a precollege setting. 

Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson, curriculum development consultant for NJ GEAR UP, has worked with GEAR UP directors, instructors, counselors, and staff to build a strong understanding of the Common Core Standards, effective instructional practices, and data-driven instruction. Through a series of regional workshops, on-site classroom observations, in-class coaching, online instructional webinars, continuous feedback, and assessment development, OSHE/NJ GEAR UP has implemented the COMPASS teaching framework. Based on the work conducted by Robert Marzano (High Impact Teaching Strategies), Roger Bybee (5E lesson planning), and Norman Webb (Depths of Knowledge), COMPASS teaching consists of the following observable characteristics–(C) community relevant, (O) organized, (M) meaningful tasks, (P) previewed activities, (A) academic habit forming, (S) skill building, and (S) student-interest motivated. These instructional characteristics promote college readiness for all students.

The Curriculum Development Initiative (CDI) aims at supporting NJ GEAR UP teachers, counselors, and staff as they work to increase college readiness skills to help low-income students enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Develop and implement a college readiness curriculum:

Guide GEAR UP program staff in the development and implementation of a college readiness curriculum for the 20-week academic year component and 6-week summer program.

Professional development:

Provide a comprehensive professional development program for NJ GEAR UP staff, curriculum specialists, teachers, counselors, and mentors. Training will include but is not limited to:

  • Implementing a research-based curriculum framework to promote college readiness across classroom instruction, academic counseling, and mentoring
  • Common Core Standards and effective lesson planning
  • Reading & writing across the curriculum
  • Enhancing student understanding in math & science
  • Differentiating learning experiences
  • Developing effective student assessments and student growth objectives
  • Utilizing student data to drive instruction and program activities
  • Managing a professional learning community through the use of social learning platforms e.g., Edmodo
Program site observations: academic year component and summer program
  • Observe and assess instructional, counseling, and mentoring practices as it relates to a college readiness curriculum across seven program sites.
  • Support precollege teachers through in-class modeling/coaching and continuous feedback
  • Develop and implement an annual statewide pre-post student assessment to gauge understanding of Common Core Standards
  • Provide a comparative report with site specific assessment data and recommendations to improve student achievement
Evaluation and Report:
  • Assess level of implementation of curriculum development framework
  • Assess effectiveness of curriculum and overall success of instructional, counseling, and mentoring practices to promote college readiness
  • Provide a yearly comprehensive evaluation report with number of participants, feedback from participants [i.e., surveys, individual meetings, focus groups, etc.], student achievement data, implementation and effectiveness of a college readiness curriculum, and recommendations for curricular improvements. 
Workshop Materials and Online Webinars

If you would like to join the NJ GEAR UP Professional Learning Community (PLC) available on Edmodo, please contact Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson at or 215-207-STEP to join today!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the NJ GEAR UP Curriculum Development Initiative, please contact:

Sarah Carangelo at or

Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson at or 215-207-STEP

Last Updated: Wednesday, 02/09/22