A bill that would have provided a legislative fix to the ongoing debate regarding the state’s high school graduation requirements appeared on track to hit Gov.  Murphy’s desk earlier this week.

However, the measure, A-4597/S-3381, was removed from the list of bills the Assembly was scheduled to vote on Feb. 25. The full Senate approved the legislation last Thursday.  The bill’s fate remains uncertain at this time. NJSBA supports the measure.

If approved in its current form, A-4597/S-3381 would amend the provisions of current law concerning the graduation proficiency test to allow for the development of statewide assessments in reading, writing, and computational skills. It would also eliminate the requirement that the assessment be administered specifically in the 11th grade.

Under the bill, the state would be required to administer an assessment or assessments designed to test high school proficiency. Any student who initially does not demonstrate proficiency must be given an opportunity to retest.

The bill contains a grandfathered provision for students in the graduating classes of 2019 and 2020, saying that these students will have met graduation assessment requirements if they satisfy the State Board of Education regulations in place on Dec. 30, 2018 concerning graduation assessment requirements for the class of 2019.

The bill also amends current law to provide that a student who has not met all graduation standards but who has met all credit, curriculum, and attendance requirements, must have taken the graduation proficiency assessment to be eligible for a comprehensive assessment of proficiencies using techniques other than standardized tests.

The bill would provide a long-term solution to the state’s graduation requirements.

Under an agreement reached Feb. 20 between Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and litigants who challenged the state’s graduation exam, high school juniors and seniors who have already passed the PARCC exams or other standardized tests will be allowed to graduate.

Further action will be required to resolve graduation requirements for current sophomores and freshmen. The agreement was reached between the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and the Education Law Center, the ACLU of New Jersey and several civil rights and parent advocacy groups that had successfully challenged high school graduation testing requirements.

The NJDOE agreed to a compromise that will leave current graduation testing rules in place for high school seniors and extend those rules to juniors, averting a potential crisis for about 170,000 students. Under the agreement, those students can still use passing scores on PARCC, the SAT, ACT, or a series of other exams to prove they’re ready to graduate. The state Appellate Division issued a consent order, approving the deal, last week.

The compromise solved the problem temporarily, buying officials time to figure out a long-term legislative solution.

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