Education Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of NJ are urging the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) to withdraw the high school graduation policies illegally imposed by the Christie Administration in 2016. The rules are currently up for readoption by the NJ State Board of Education.

In public comments submitted last week, the groups urged the State Board to rescind rules that make passing the PARCC ELA10 (English Language Arts) and Algebra I exams a requirement to receive a high school diploma. The regulations codify Christie-era policies that Governor Phil Murphy has pledged to reverse by replacing PARCC with new state assessments and ending exit testing for diplomas.

ELC and the ACLU-NJ detail the multiple ways the current Standards and Assessment regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:8) violate the explicit mandates and intent of state law. These include:

  • Current law requires a single 11th grade exam, but neither PARCC ELA10 or Algebra I are administered in the 11th grade.
  • The law requires re-testing opportunities and access to alternative assessments not provided for in the new rules.
  • The use of fee-based tests, such as the ACT or SAT, violates the state constitutional guarantee of a free public education.
  • Last March, the State Assembly passed a resolution by a vote of 69-3 declaring the new regulations “not consistent with legislative intent.”
  • Last April, Senate President Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chair Ruiz co-wrote a letter stating, “Clearly, the State Board of Education’s revised regulation governing the assessments required to demonstrate proficiency for high school graduation is inconsistent with and violates the intent of the Legislature.”

ELC and the ACLU-NJ have filed a legal challenge to the graduation rules on behalf of NJ parent and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, the Latino Action Network, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, and the Paterson Education Fund.  The lawsuit is pending in New Jersey’s Appellate Division.

ELC also submitted additional testimony using recent NJDOE data to show why continued implementation of these rules would be disastrous for students, schools and families. This data shows:

  • After three years of PARCC testing, 2017 passing rates on the designated graduation tests are 46% (ELA10) and 42% (Alg. I).
  • Less than half of the nearly 100,000 students who graduate each year are on track to satisfy the PARCC diploma requirements.
  • In 2017, only 27% of the senior class graduated by passing PARCC exams. Over 60% — more than 60,000 students — used alternative options that the regulations eliminate and which will not be available for current freshmen, the class of 2021.

“New Jersey has the second-highest high school graduation rate in the nation,” said Stan Karp of ELC. “Graduation rates have improved every year since 2011. Even more encouraging, gaps between subgroups have narrowed.  But the graduation policies the State Board is proposing to re-adopt would sharply reverse this progress.”

“The need to change these rules is growing,” Mr. Karp added. “If PARCC high school testing continues under the current regulations, schools will need to begin preparing thousands of portfolio appeals as other options are eliminated. The regulations are already having a growing impact on course-taking patterns and the ability of students to take electives.”

For an indication of the number of students potentially at risk of not graduating in a specific school or district, see this chart.

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Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240