On Nov. 21, the New Jersey Senate held a voting session that gave final legislative approval to S-588/A-4169, a bill requiring the State Board of Education to adopt academic standards in information literacy, among other actions. A list of education-related measures approved by the Senate follows below.

Senate Voting Session

The Senate approved the following measures:

Information Literacy Standards S-588/A-4169 would require the State Board of Education to adopt standards in information literacy, to be included in the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Information literacy standards would describe the knowledge and skills that enable students to locate, evaluate and use information effectively, including digital, media and technological literacy. The standards would address such themes as the difference between facts, point of view and opinions; research methods; and accessing peer-reviewed print and digital library resources. In developing the information literacy standards, the New Jersey Department of Education would be required to convene a committee of educators, engage experts and hold public hearings. The bill would also require districts to incorporate instruction on information literacy in an appropriate place in the K-12 curriculum as part of the district’s implementation of the NJSLS, and to include the school library media specialist in the development of curriculum concerning information literacy whenever possible. NJSBA supports the bill. It first passed the Senate in June 2022, then was amended in the Assembly. The Assembly approved the bill in October. Having received its final legislative approval, the bill now awaits action by the governor.

Performance-Based Assessment Certification Requirement: The Senate approved S-896, the “edTPA bill,” as amended to reflect the conditional veto issued by the governor. The amended bill will now be forwarded to the Assembly for further action. For additional information on the bill, including the governor’s conditional veto, see the New Jersey School Boards Association’s  Sept. 27 School Board Notes Legislative Update article.

“Specific Learning Disability” Determinations S-2256 would modify the state’s criteria for determining whether a student has a specific learning disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by:

  • Prohibiting use of the “severe discrepancy” model.
  • Permitting the use of a response to intervention model and other alternative research-based procedures, such as patterns of strengths and weaknesses or case studies.
  • Prohibiting a district from using any single procedure as the sole criterion for determining whether a student has a specific learning disability or for determining an appropriate educational program for the student.
  • Requiring a district to ensure that the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive, and, at a minimum, includes an assessment of basic psychological processes to identify all of the student’s special education and related service needs.

The bill’s prohibition against the use of severe discrepancy for determining whether a student has a specific learning disability would be effective in the fourth full school year following enactment of the bill.

The NJSBA testified on the importance of permitting school districts the use of every evaluation tool allowed by IDEA regulations – including severe discrepancy – to meet the needs of all of New Jersey’s special education students. To that end, NJSBA expressed preference for a previous legislative effort regarding classification of specific learning disabilities, S-2526 from the 2018-2019 session. Instead of prohibiting the use of severe discrepancy outright, that bill would have more closely aligned to IDEA regulations by specifying that the criteria for determining whether a student has a specific learning disability shall not require the use of severe discrepancy and shall permit RTI and other research-based procedures. The bill approved by the Senate this week next moves to the Assembly for further consideration.  A copy of the NJSBA’s testimony on the bill can be found here.

Remote Counseling Sessions S-2692 would require school districts, charter schools and renaissance school projects that employ a school psychologist and offer in-person school psychology services to students in grades kindergarten through 12 to allow students to attend counseling sessions or meetings of any kind through virtual or remote means. Under the bill, a student would not be eligible to participate in remote psychology sessions if the school psychologist determines that in-person counseling is in the best interest of the student. Approved by the Senate, the bill next goes to the Assembly for consideration. NJSBA is monitoring the bill.

Electric School Bus Funding S-3044 would provide a supplemental fiscal year 2023 appropriation of $15 million to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to support year one of the three-year Electric School Bus Program. That program was established by legislation, P.L.2022, c.86, approved by the Legislature in June and signed into law by Murphy in August. The NJSBA supports the bill, which heads to the Assembly for further consideration. For additional information on the Electric School Bus Program, see the Aug. 9, 2022, School Board Notes article.

Military Impact Aid Reserve Account S-3089 would permit a school district that received unanticipated state military impact aid revenue in the 2021-2022 school year (pursuant to P.L.2022, c.19, which ensured an allocation of military impact aid for Rockaway Township School District and Tinton Falls School District) to establish a state military impact aid reserve account. Such a district would be permitted to appropriate the unanticipated state military impact aid revenue to establish the reserve account in the district’s annual budget, or through transfer by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the authorized membership of the board, for withdrawal in any subsequent school year. Any transfer to the reserve account would not exceed the total amount of unanticipated state military impact aid revenue. The district, at its discretion, would be able to use the funds in the reserve account for general fund expenses. The bill would require the reserve account to be established and held in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and provides that the account would be subject to an annual audit. NJSBA supports the bill, which next heads to the Assembly for further consideration.

To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, please visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.