The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has issued guidance to all school districts and charter schools on the graduation test rules for current juniors and seniors as provided for in a consent order approved by the state Appeals Court.
The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, issued a December ruling invalidating the NJDOE’s PARCC-based graduation test rules. The Court last week formally entered a consent order preserving the menu of graduation test options in the existing 2019 graduation rules for current juniors and seniors to earn their diplomas.
The consent order implements an agreement reached between the Attorney General, representing the NJDOE, and Education Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, on behalf of the civil rights and parent advocacy organizations that challenged the PARCC-based rules.
By providing immediate relief for current juniors and seniors, the consent order gives the NJDOE time to work collaboratively with educators, parents and the Legislature to develop legal and fair testing rules for current sophomores, freshmen and future classes.
The consent order and NJDOE guidance also eliminate any need for a bill proposed by Senator Teresa Ruiz pending before the New Jersey Assembly. The Ruiz bill, which narrowly passed the Senate last Thursday, is scheduled for an Assembly vote Monday afternoon.
The Ruiz bill would make several permanent changes in state testing policy. It would indefinitely extend “exit testing” for diplomas; authorize the designation of multiple exams in multiple grades as potential graduation requirements; and prevent parents or students from “opting out” of state tests.
“The court order and NJDOE guidance eliminate any need for an immediate legislative remedy,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “The Ruiz bill should be tabled to give the NJDOE, educators and parents a meaningful opportunity to consider any permanent changes to New Jersey exit testing law. Legislators should not be forced to vote on those changes under the guise of an emergency that no longer exists.”
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