The Assembly passed a bill today temporarily waiving a requirement that current high school juniors pass the New Jersey Grade Proficiency Assessment, citing the disruption to education and mental health caused by the ongoing Covid pandemic.
“Everybody recognizes that the pandemic caused a tremendous amount of learning loss,” one of the bill’s main sponsors, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley), said today. “To have this high-stakes testing right now, when kids have gone through the devastation of suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, trips to the hospital – it’s not the right time.”
Gov. Phil Murphy issued similar waivers in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, but the State Board of Education voted earlier this month to move in the opposite direction and raise the test score required for graduation, which Caputo harshly criticized.
“That’s what you call educational malpractice, when you don’t take into consideration what’s happened over the last two years and you enact a resolution that’s going to put more pressure on our kids,” he said.
In a joint statement released after the bill’s passage, its sponsors – Caputo and Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Cherry Hill), Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery), and Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) – said that students didn’t need the “anxiety and stress” of a high-stakes test.
“Counting the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment this year will create barriers to graduation for many students who have faced challenges over the last two years,” they said. “It is unfair and unconscionable to spring a new test on rising seniors and raise the stakes as they are so close to graduation.”
The bill passed 71-1, with Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) voting no; its Senate equivalent has yet to come for a committee vote.