An agreement reached with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) will provide clear pathways to graduation for all current high school students.
The agreement, approved by the Superior Court, Appellate Division, on May 29, extends the consent order put in place in February for seniors and juniors so that it now covers sophomores and freshmen as well. Under the agreement, all current high school students in the classes of 2019 through 2022 will have unrestricted access to the full range of options outlined in the graduation rules for 2019.
The agreement was negotiated by 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, that successfully challenged high school graduation testing requirements imposed by the NJDOE in 2016.
On December 31, 2018, the Superior Court, Appellate Division, invalidated those rules for violations of state law. Since then, ELC and the ACLU-NJ have advocated for extending relief to all current high school students, either by suspending the testing requirement or giving all students access to the maximum range of graduation options.
The latest agreement means current high school students will be able to satisfy the testing requirement for graduation by passing one state math exam and one English Language Arts exam, receiving a passing score on a designated “substitute” test such as the SAT or ACT, or satisfying the requirements of the portfolio alternative.
According to previously released data from the NJDOE, about half of all current high school students will now be able to satisfy the testing requirement with scores they have already earned on state assessments. Those who haven’t yet done so will have additional opportunities to pass state tests and also be able to use substitute test options that were scheduled to be phased out under the rules struck down by the Court.
The agreement will also provide Governor 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 freshmen year in September.
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