On June 5, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) updated the high school graduation assessment requirements, pursuant to an amended consent order from the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

The order honors an agreement between the NJDOE and the Education Law Center, which addresses graduation requirements for the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

On Dec. 31, the Superior Court’s Appellate Division ruled that the state requirements contradicted New Jersey law, which states that students must pass a single 11th-grade test for graduation.

In February, the court approved an agreement allowing current juniors and seniors to pick from tests that are currently offered. Those tests include the SAT, ACT, the military entrance test or the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA)/PARCC exam—to graduate. The court has extended the same protocol to the classes of 2021 and 2022, who are now freshmen and sophomores.

The agreement refers to the path to graduation that was established for the Classes of 2019 and 2020 through the initial consent order dated Feb. 15, 2019. It has been extended to apply to the Classes of 2021 and 2022.

These are the same requirements that were in place for the Classes of 2017 and 2018, and therefore schools, educators, students and parents are familiar with these rules.

The amended consent order establishes the following pathways for the Classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to meet the high school assessment graduation requirements in both English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) and mathematics:

The requirements include the following options:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in NJSLA/PARCC ELA (English language arts/literacy) 10 and/or Algebra I ; or
  • Demonstrate proficiency in ELA and/or mathematics by meeting the designated cut score on one of alternative assessments such as other high school-level NJSLA/PARCC assessments; or
  • The SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER as defined in the Graduation Assessment Requirements chart; or
  • Demonstrate proficiency in ELA and/or mathematics by submitting, through the district, a student portfolio appeal to the NJDOE.

Special education students, whose individualized education plans (IEPs) specify an alternative way to demonstrate proficiencies, will continue to follow the graduation assessment requirements set forth in their IEPs.

NJSBA provided testimony to the State Board of Education in November 2018 stating that local boards of education should be able to set local graduation requirements that complement those of the state. Students who meet local and state requirements for graduation should be granted a state-endorsed diploma. This applies not only to students in general education programs, but also to special education, bilingual and limited English proficient students.

Moving forward, the NJDOE is committed to continuing to collaborate with stakeholders to transition to the next generation of statewide assessments. NJSBA and other state education groups are part of the state’s assessment committee and will continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Education to develop the  next generation of state assessments that is relevant to students, aligned to curriculum, and data-rich to assist educators in refining their instructional approaches to meet student needs.

For questions or concerns, please contact the NJDOE via email.