On Thursday, March 19, the Assemwbly Education Committee heard from representatives of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) on PARCC and student privacy issues. The presentation followed the NJDOE release of a March 17 memo that addressed concerns regarding the monitoring of social media during the administration of the PARCC test.
The Assembly Education Committee also considered the following bills:
A-4165 allows a parent or guardian to exclude a student from the administration of certain assessments. The bill, which NJSBA opposes, establishes a procedure for a parent or guardian of a public school student to provide written notification that the student will not participate in the administration of a PARCC assessment.
NJSBA opposes the bill because it creates a statutory “opt out” provision that is likely to encourage a larger number of students to refuse to take the test. The bill institutionalizes a process that was never intended to occur, and potentially puts millions of dollars in federal funds at risk. Additionally, the bill requires districts to provide “educationally appropriate ungraded alternative activities” or allow the student to engage in supervised reading or other self-directed work during the time in which the assessment is being administered. Any such activity may not occur in the same room in which the assessment is being administered. NJSBA believes that such requirements can place an additional financial burden on local districts. The bill is scheduled for a full Assembly vote on March 26. The Senate companion bill, S-2767, has not yet been heard in committee.
A3845 requires NJDOE to conduct a study on the options and benefits of instituting later school start times in middle schools and high schools. The bill, which NJSBA supports, was released by the committee and now heads to the full Assembly for a vote. The companion bill, S-2484, was approved by the Senate in December 2014.
A-4268 establishes the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to study the administration of the PARCC assessments. NJSBA will have a seat on the eleven-member task force. The bill was released from committee. There is currently no Senate companion bill.
A3713 requires a review of Core Curriculum Content Standards to ensure that the substance abuse instruction provided to public school students incorporates the most recent evidence-based standards and practices. NJSBA supports the bill. The bill was released from committee and now heads to the full Assembly for a vote. The Senate companion bill, S-2367, passed the full Senate in December 2014.
The Assembly Women and Children Committee considered a bill concerning procedures for students with concussions. A-4207 requires public school students with concussions to be evaluated by licensed health care professionals before returning to school and requires school districts to provide restrictions or limitations to student as needed. The bill, which NJSBA supports, was released from the committee and now heads to the full Assembly for a vote. There is currently no Senate companion to the Assembly bill.
On March 23, the governor signed into law A-3690 concerning students with service animals. Current law allows a student with a disability, including autism, to have a service animal in school buildings and on school grounds. This bill expands the law to permit a student with a disability to bring a service animal onto a school bus.