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New Jersey continues to prepare for Common Core State Standards

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2013 17:11 PM

On Nov. 18, the state of New Jersey launched a website that provides tools and resources intended to help parents, teachers and school administrators implement the Common Core State Standards.

Depending on the success of the so-called cyberschool, New Jersey's example is one that could be followed in other states as they either prepare to introduce the Standards or continue to roll them out in their schools. It was also another step in the state's preparation for its own rollout of the Standards.

New Jersey's collaborative effort
One of the most interesting and possibly informative aspects of the new website is that it allows teachers to share their ideas, experiences and lesson plans with educators throughout the state, and it provides a forum for others in the education system to rate and discuss those initiatives. That kind of collaboration should help further best practices among educators and parents as they attempt to refine the way the Standards are applied throughout New Jersey.

The Garden State won't start using the Standards until the 2014-15 school year, so by getting the cyberschool up and running now, Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor, is hoping to build awareness and acceptance for them before they are fully carried out.

The website should be a boon for teachers who are trying to navigate their way through the Standards, as the resources it provides could be invaluable to educators who are themselves trying to gain a greater understanding of all they entail.

"As we work together to track the transition from our current standards to the Common Core, there has been an understandable expectation that teachers will get the guidance to what they need to be effective," state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf told reporters in a press conference. "Now, with a single click, they will be able to access the resources to any [requested] topic."

Building on recent success
New Jersey schools have already begun to show improvement in preparation for the Standards. Results from a new set of statewide math and language arts tests that were more difficult than the ones the state had used previously are in, and it appears Garden State students made incremental improvements over previous scores.

Overall, the results were similar to last year's, but since the tests themselves were harder, flat scores actually signaled an improvement. That could serve as a launching pad for when the Standards come into full force next year.

"New Jersey actually was a pace car in the nation for having high standards and that is allowing us to transition to the Common Core Standards in a less bumpy way than other states have experienced," Cerf said.