Both houses of the Legislature held voting sessions on Thursday, March 24. Below is a summary of any approved legislation affecting local school districts.
Senate Voting Session
The Senate approved the following education-related measures, which now head to the Assembly for further consideration:
EdTPA Elimination S-896 prohibits the State Board of Education from requiring the completion of a commissioner of education approved performance-based assessment, such as the edTPA, as a requirement for teacher certification. It would remove this requirement for both the obtainment of a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing or a certificate of eligibility. Teaching candidates would still have to complete a performance-based assessment approved by an educator preparation program. NJSBA supports the bill.
Under current State Board of Education regulations, in order to be eligible for a CE or CEAS, a candidate must pass a commissioner of education approved teacher performance-based assessment, which is currently the edTPA. The edTPA requires teacher candidates and provisional teachers to plan lessons, assess student work and submit a video recording of themselves teaching students. It has been cited by many in the New Jersey educational community as an unnecessary and redundant barrier to entering the teaching profession. Earlier this year, the NJSBA was one of nine organizations that sent a letter to the Legislature and State Board of Education urging them to take action and eliminate the edTPA as a requirement for securing a license.
In testimony before the Senate Education Committee earlier this month, the NJSBA pointed out that the removal of the edTPA assessment from the requirements for teacher certification would not decrease teacher accountability because of the protocols in the TEACHNJ act and novice teacher supports available in local districts. A copy of the NJSBA’s testimony can be read here.
Pre-Apprenticeship Programs S-525 enhances and expands the state’s current initiatives under the “Youth Transitions to Work Partnership Act,” to establish pre-apprenticeship programs to assist young people in entering apprenticeship programs with links to post-secondary education and credentials. NJSBA supports the bill.
Remembering 9/11 S-713 requires school districts to include information on events of Sept. 11, 2001, as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Social Studies. The bill also requires public schools to annually organize a commemorative event that will enhance student awareness of the events of 9/11.
Military Impact Aid S-1929 provides a supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2022 in the amount of $1,529,089 to provide aid to certain military-impacted districts. This amount is added to the appropriation for stabilization aid in the Department of Education. This supplemental appropriation will ensure that the Rockaway Township and Tinton Falls school districts, both of which have not yet received military impact aid in fiscal year 2022, are allocated military impact aid in the amounts of $776,515 and $752,574, respectively.
Assembly Voting Session
The General Assembly approved the following bills, each of which must pass the Senate before going to the governor:
Field Testing Graduation Exit Exam A-3196 requires the State Board of Education, in coordination with the commissioner of education, to administer the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment as a field test for 11th grade students expected to graduate in 2023. However, the NJGPA would not be used as a prerequisite for graduation for students currently in their junior year. In addition, these students would not have to pass a substitute competency test (such as the ACT or SAT) or demonstrate proficiency through techniques and instruments other than a standardized test (i.e., portfolio appeal) to graduate. The bill also requires the State Board of Education and the commissioner of education to use the results of the test to assist in the development of state assessments for future graduating classes. Nothing in the bill would be construed to alter or amend local graduation requirements adopted by a board of education. The bill grew out of concern that the State Board had passed a resolution at its February 2022 meeting requiring the grade 11 test to be administered as a statewide graduation requirement with a passing score of 750. A-3196 would eliminate that requirement. NJSBA supports the bill.
COVID Assistance Reporting A-2067 requires the NJDOE to annually report to the governor and Legislature the amount of federal aid related to COVID relief it receives and distributes to districts as well as the purposes for which grant funds were used by these districts. Additionally, NJDOE would submit a final report regarding the expenditure of federal grant funds received to address the impact of COVID-19 on public education no later than six months following the complete exhaustion of funds by recipient school districts. NJSBA continues to monitor the bill.