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An extended agreement approved by the courts will allow all current high school students a clear path to graduation while the state develops a new plan for standard testing.

The agreement, approved by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court on May 29, extends the consent order put in place earlier this year after a panel of judges struck down the Department of Education’s current graduation rules as unlawful.

In February, the Education Law Center announced an agreement had been reached with the Department of Education to allow students in the classes of 2019 and 2020 to graduate using the state’s 2019 graduation rules, which included the broadest options for standardized tests. The new agreement now includes the classes of 2021 and 2022.

In its opinion released Dec. 31, the Appellate Court panel said the state’s 2016 graduation rules, which included passing multiple Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, exams in various grades, were not in line with the state law that required only one test administered in 11th grade. The PARCC test was renamed the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment in the fall.

The agreement was negotiated by the Education Law Center and the ACLU of New Jersey on behalf of several civil rights and parent advocacy groups, including the Latino Action Network, Latino Coalition of NJ, Paterson Education Fund and NAACP NJ State Conference.

The agreement will provide Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and the Legislature with additional time to review and revise graduation policies for students in the class of 2023, who will begin their freshman year in September.

Cedar Creek theater program adopted by Paper Mill Playhouse

The Cedar Creek High School theater program has been accepted into the Paper Mill Playhouse Adopt-A-School-Project.

Founded in 1989, the program partners students from a New Jersey public high school with Paper Mill, the state theater of New Jersey.

“This incredible program will not only provide our students with the opportunity to not only attend live, professional theater; it will allow our students to interact with some of the greatest professional artists currently working in the business,” Cedar Creek theater director John Stephan said. “We are so fortunate to have received this opportunity, and we are all so excited about the prospects of what this will mean for our students and our theater program here at Cedar Creek.”

The program is broken down into different phases each year. Year One is an observation time, where students are exposed to live theater. Prior to each show, students and staff take part in related workshops or seminars.

Over the following three years, students have the opportunity to put what they have observed into practice. A student theater company will be formed for students to create an original theater work, guided by professional artists. Finally, students will be part of a preshow seminar with leading theater professionals, guiding the students in writing a critical analysis of their artistic experiences.

Ventnor to use DOT grant for school safety improvements

Walking to school will soon be a lot safer in Ventnor as the city will use a $207,000 grant for traffic and pedestrian safety improvements near the Ventnor Educational Community Complex.

“Safety improvements for our children to access the school is a priority,” Mayor Beth Holzman said.

The improvements will extend along Lafayette Avenue from Ventnor Gardens Plaza to Fulton Avenue.

At the Ventnor Gardens Plaza intersection, high-visibility crosswalks will be added. Curb extensions will be added at the intersections of Ventnor Gardens Plaza and Balfour, Essex and Fulton avenues. Pedestrian refuge islands will be added at the intersections of Balfour, Essex and Fulton.

In addition, the city will paint shared-lane markings for bicyclists and the 60-foot-wide cross-section of Lafayette Avenue will be modified to include bike lanes and a center turn lane.

The project is one of only three grants awarded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation in South Jersey. Hammonton and West Cape May had the other approved projects.

Cumberland County College president honored by United Way

Cumberland County College interim President Shelly Schneider has been honored with the Power of the Purse Award by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

The Power of the Purse Award celebrates the positive impact women make on their community and recognizes the contributions of women leaders who are dedicated to changing the lives of others.

Also honored were Cape May County Freeholder Marie Hayes and attorney Rona Kaplan.

“It is humbling for me to receive an award for doing things that I love,” Schneider said. “My family and friends are incredible supporters of my many commitments. I truly hope that I have made a difference for others in some small way.”

Salem, Stockton sign dual admission agreement

Stockton University and Salem Community College have signed a new dual-admission and transfer partnership agreement that will help students make a smoother transition from the two-year college to Stockton’s bachelor’s degree programs.

“This agreement will help support students as they begin their degree at Salem Community College, and also provides the assurance that they can have a smooth pathway to a bachelor’s degree at Stockton,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said. “We look forward to participating in their success.”

Like Stockton’s other dual-admission agreements, students who are denied direct admission to Stockton as a freshman applicant can receive conditional dual admission in partnership with Salem Community College. Students will attend classes at SCC but will also have access to campus activities and student groups at Stockton.

Students already enrolled at SCC can apply for conditional acceptance to Stockton while working toward their associate degrees and be assured of acceptance prior to the term in which they are ready to transfer.

Stockton and SCC will develop specific program-to-program articulation agreements for high-demand majors to facilitate the quality and ease of transfer.

Sustainable Jersey funding awarded to 34 school projects

Sustainable Jersey has awarded more than $100,000 in grants to support 34 on-the-ground, sustainability and capacity-building projects in schools and districts across the state.

The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants, funded by the PSEG Foundation, include four $10,000 grants and 30 $2,000 grants. One of the four grants for $10,000 will fund a water conservation program at Lower Cape May Regional High School.

“We are very grateful for this grant as it will help me, as a teacher of environmental sustainability, engage my students with the implementation of real water conservation measures that will benefit the school and our local watershed,” said teacher Jeff Martin of Lower Cape May Regional.

Several of the 30 $2,000 grants also were awarded to South Jersey schools, including Cape May County Technical High School, Fernwood Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, Middle Township High School, Atlantic City's Pennsylvania Avenue School and William Davies Middle School in Hamilton Township.

“This grant will enable us to install water-bottle filling stations in our school, which will support our green team in building a culture that encourages individuals to choose water as a daily beverage. By doing so, we will promote environmental sustainability as we utilize reusable beverage containers,” said Pennsylvania Avenue School Principal La'Quetta S. Small.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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