ASSEMBLY, No. 5374

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 23, 2021

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman† PAMELA R. LAMPITT

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

Assemblywoman† MILA M. JASEY

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

Assemblywoman† JOANN DOWNEY

District 11 (Monmouth)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywomen Stanfield, Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Johnson, Assemblywomen McKnight, Swain and Assemblyman Tully

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Directs DOE to request waiver of certain student academic assessment requirements from federal government.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning student academic assessments in the 2020-2021 school year.†

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.† The Legislature finds and declares that:

†††† a.†††† The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced significant uncertainty across nearly all aspects of society, including for students, parents and guardians, teachers, and all other members of the education community.

†††† b.† With the Statewide closure of schools during the 2019-2020 school year pursuant to Executive Order No. 104 of 2020 and the continuation of virtual or remote instruction in numerous school districts during the 2020-2021 school year, many students have not been in a school building since March 2020.

†††† c.† One pressure facing the education community, among many other pressures presented during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the requirement to administer Statewide student academic assessments required under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

†††† d.† Any Statewide assessment administered during the unprecedented circumstances of the 2020-2021 school year is not likely to yield any meaningful or consistent evaluation of student academic performance.†

†††† e.† Given that student assessments held during the 2020-2021 school year may be administered remotely or in-person depending on a school districtís circumstances, it is not possible to guarantee that administration of the assessments can be completed in an equitable way across the State.†

†††† f.† School districts and individual teachers have employed other tests and tools, outside of standardized testing, to assess student progress and identify areas of attention, regardless of whether the students are learning in a school building or at home.† These tests often provide data that can be immediately addressed.†

†††† g.† Pursuant to a special broadcast dated February 11, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Education has already postponed the start date of all assessments and plans to begin Statewide assessment administration to no earlier than April 5, 2021.† This announcement allows the department more time to evaluate options and alternatives to Statewide assessments during the 2020-2021 school year.††

†††† h.† The instructional time and educational resources currently available to students during such unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances should not be focused on preparing students for assessments that will not provide significant or timely information. †Rather, it is fitting and proper that the focus of current resources be directed toward providing students the support they need in real-time to progress their education.†

 

†††† 2.† a.† Notwithstanding the provisions of any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, the New Jersey Department of Education shall submit to the Secretary of the United States Department of Education a formal request seeking a waiver of the student academic assessments required under section 1111(b)(2) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. s.6311(b)(2)), for the 2020-2021 school year.

†††† b.† In addition to the provisions of section 8401 of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. s.7861) concerning the requirements for submitting a waiver of statutory or regulatory requirements of that act to the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, the New Jersey Department of Education shall, as a condition of submitting the waiver required pursuant to subsection a. of this section:

†††† (1)† compile and report the number of schools providing each full-time in-person instruction, full-time virtual or remote instruction, and hybrid instruction;†

†††† (2)† compile and report the number of students participating in each full-time in-person instruction, full-time virtual or remote instruction, and hybrid instruction; and

†††† (3)† detail alternative education tools used by each school district to assess student performance, after requesting that each district identify to the New Jersey Department of Education such alternative education tools.†

 

†††† 3. †This act shall take effect immediately.†

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill requires the New Jersey Department of Education to submit to the United States Department of Education a formal request seeking a waiver of the student academic assessments required under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). In addition to the federal requirements for submitting a waiver of ESEA statutory or regulatory provisions, the bill requires the New Jersey Department of Education to: 1) compile and report the number of schools providing each full-time in-person instruction, full-time virtual or remote instruction, and hybrid instruction;† †2) compile and report the number of students participating in each full-time in-person instruction, full-time virtual or remote instruction, and hybrid instruction; and 3) detail alternative education tools used by each school district to assess student performance, after requesting that each district identify to the New Jersey Department of Education such alternative education tools.