Program Updates

On a continuous basis, through the help of the task forces, the Certification Standards Committee reviews Sustainable Jersey for Schools program content, standards, and feedback to ensure actions are relevant, appropriate and up-to-date with current best practices. Sustainable Jersey for Schools announces new program and action updates every year at the annual New Jersey School Boards Workshop in October. New actions and action updates are typically implemented by January 1st. 


2023-2024 Retired Actions

The following actions were retired at the end of October 2023:

  • District Professional Development Plan
  • Indoor Air Quality Review
  • Reporting Process for Indoor Air Quality

Program Update Webinar Recordings

Food Waste Actions - New & Updated

View Recording


Digital Schools Star Recognition Updates

The Digital Schools Star Recognition requirements have changed. The updates are:

  • Approval of actions in the Student Learning and School Culture & Climate categories is no longer required.
  • The new Digital Innovative Classroom action (coming soon) is a mandatory action the 15-point level.
  • A minimum of 8 of the 13 Digital Schools actions need to be approved. The previous requirement was 7. 
  • At least 4 of the 8 approved actions must be Foundational Actions. The previous requirement was 5. 
  • The District Professional Development Plan action will be retired October 31, 2023. The elements of this action have been incorporated into the Professional Growth and Collaboration action and the District Commitment to Digital Learning action.


2023-2024 New Actions

Waste Reduction & Recycling

Campaign to Reduce School Food Waste: 10 Points
This action requires schools to undertake a school-wide campaign to encourage students and staff to reduce the amount of waste (food, packaging, single-use utensils) generated during school lunch and/or breakfast. 

Food Service Training & Best Practices to Reduce Food Waste: 10 Points
This action requires schools to train food service staff and implement food service best practices to reduce food waste in the cafeteria. Practices include purchasing and producing food in smaller batches, practicing Offer versus Serve, and deploying Smarter Lunchroom Movement strategies to increase students’ intake of healthy foods, thereby reducing waste. 

Food Recovery - Share Tables & Donation: 10 to 20 Points
This action encourages schools to run a comprehensive, on-going share table program and/or a food donation program to feed hungry students or community members with recovered excess food rather than throwing it out. Schools may earn 10 points each for a share table program and a donation program. 

Digital Learning Practices

Digital Innovative Classroom #1 & #2: 10 to 30 Points
This action provides educators a platform to showcase their digitally innovate classrooms. Spotlighting various dimensions of technologically advanced learning environments. This action allows teachers to demonstrate how they empower their students as active learners through technology integration.


2023-2024 Action Updates

Digital Learning Leadership

District Commitment to Digital Learning: 10 to 15 Points
The updates to this action were made to the Commitment to Digital Learning Submission form. Districts now need to provide evidence on how they are assessing educators’ professional learning needs related to digital learning and capacity building. 

Digital Learning Practices

Professional Growth & Collaboration: 15 Points
Updates made to this action include decreasing the number of required samples of teacher goals and attendance documentation from 10 to 5. 

Healthy School Environments

Radon Testing, Education and Mitigation: 10 Points
Radon testing guidance has been updated, including the requirement that Radon testing must be conducted by a New Jersey certified radon measurement professional. School officials may no longer conduct the radon testing. 

Student Learning

Education for Sustainability (EfS) Actions (except Education for Sustainability Integrated Unit): 5 Points Each 
The updates to these actions include the replacement of the EfS questionnaire with a lesson plan template, allowing for different forms of assessment of student learning. 

Waste Reduction & Recycling

Waste Audit: 10 to 20 Points
This action encourages schools to carry out waste audits to assess the quantity and origin of their waste. The action has been updated to a variable point action and offers 10 points for an audit of general waste (including waste from classrooms, offices, and other areas of the building and grounds), and 10 points for an audit of cafeteria waste that includes tray waste from the school’s meal service. Either or both options may be completed to receive points. New guidance and resources have been added for food waste audits. 

Food Waste Recycling or Composting: 15 Points
The action name has been changed from Food Waste Management to more clearly reflect that this action awards points for recycling or composting of cafeteria food waste - on school grounds or off-site. Updated guidance and examples have also been added and the look back period has been changed to the current school year. To earn points for this action, a school must have an ongoing, comprehensive program to recycle food-waste from the cafeteria during the current school year and it must promote the program and its benefits to its school community.   



Previous Program Updates

View Sustainable Jersey for School's Previous Program Updates to learn more about the modifications made in the past.