New Jersey Department of Education

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New Jersey Student Learning Standards

21st Century Life and Careers


Standard 9: 21st Century Life and Careers
Five-Credit Graduation Requirement for 21st Century Life and Careers or Career and Technical Education - N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)2i1

Standard 9 Graduation Requirement

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1 requires that students complete five credits in 21st century life and careers or career and technical education, as follows:

(a) District boards of education shall develop, adopt, and implement local graduation requirements, for a State-endorsed diploma, that prepare students for success in post-secondary degree programs, careers, and civic life in the 21st century according to N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1(c)2 and that include the following:

  • Participation in a local program of study of not fewer than 120 credits in courses designed to meet all of the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including, but not limited to, the following credits:

x. At least five credits in 21st century life and careers, or career-technical education;
Districts may employ a variety of strategies to enable students to satisfy the five-credit graduation requirement for 21st Century Life and Careers or Career and Technical Education.
The following may satisfy the five-credit graduation requirement:

  • Business Courses
  • Career and Technical Education Courses
  • Career Education Courses 
  • Cooperative Education Experiences
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Courses
  • Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Courses
  • Structured Learning Experiences/Cooperative Education Experiences
  • Technology Education/Industrial Arts Courses

2.5 Credit Graduation Requirement for Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1v requires "At least 2.5-credits in financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy, effective with the 2010-2011 grade nine class."  The goal of this requirement, adopted by the State Board of Education on June 17, 2009, is to ensure that students demonstrate understanding about how the economy works and their own role in the economy, and also develop the necessary skills to effectively manage personal finances by the time they graduate.

Intent of Clarification

The department's intent in the following guidance is to support district implementation of this requirement by providing options that allow for flexibility in instruction. To that end, the 2.5‑credit requirement at N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1v may be met in the following ways:

  • By completing a stand-alone, half-year course which can be taught by staff holding any one of the following certificates:
    • Social Studies
    • Business: Finance, Economics, and Law
    • Comprehensive Business
    • Comprehensive Family and Consumer Sciences
    • General Business (still held by many staff, but no longer issued)
    • Math (for consumer math programs)
  • By completing Option Two through N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)2, (educational experiences that are meaningful and relevant, that meet the needs of all students, and that provide students with opportunities to explore and achieve at high levels. Option Two may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following: independent study; online learning; study abroad programs; student exchange programs; and structured learning experiences).
  • By completing one or more elective courses that integrate the content and skills required by N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1v taught by staff holding a Social Studies; Business: Finance, Economics, and Law; Comprehensive Business; Comprehensive Family and Consumer Sciences; General Business certificate; or Math certificate.

Note that school districts remain responsible for assessing and publicly reporting on the progress of all students in developing the financial literacy knowledge and skills specified by the Core Curriculum Content Standards, no matter how learned, according to N.J.A.C. 6A:8‑3.1(a)3.

Core Content

Suggested core content for fulfillment of this requirement focuses on personal financial literacy and an understanding of foundational concepts in economics. Personal Financial Literacy (Standard 9.1), includes the application of knowledge, skills, and ethical values when making consumer and financial decisions that impact self, the family, and local and global communities. Topical strands address money management; credit and debt management; planning, saving and investing; becoming a critical consumer; risk management and insurance; and civic financial responsibility. In addition, the social studies standards for grades 9-12 address various concepts in economics.