The Senate Education Committee, in a wide-ranging discussion June 19, heard from New Jersey Department of Education Assistant Commissioners Bari Erlichson and Pete Shulman, stakeholders, parents and advocates on plans to delay the impact of PARCC assessments for students, and on teacher and principal evaluation. The committee also approved legislation directing schools to provide CPR training to all high school students beginning with incoming freshman and approved legislation establishing a taskforce to review out-of-school/after-school opportunities for students.
Delaying PARCC Effect
The Committee took testimony on S-2154 (Van Drew / Gordon), the Senate companion to Assembly bill, A-3081/A-990/A-2091 (Jasey/Eustace/Andrzejczak), which passed the Assembly June 16 by a vote of 72-4-1. Specifically, the bill would establish a new taskforce, Education Reform Review Task Force, to examine the impact of the implementation of the common core and the new PARCC assessments as well as the impact of these new assessments on students and educators. NJPSA, among other education stakeholders, are named parties on the taskforce.
The bill would delay the use of the PARCC assessment as a basis for student performance in teacher and principal evaluation and for purposes of graduation for a period of two years. The bill had support from NJASA, NJEA, AFT as well as the NJPSA. The Chamber of Commerce, Better Education Institute and the NJSBA do not support the delay in effect of PARCC implementation.
Much of the day's conversation, which was kicked off by the Department of Education centered on whether the legislation could jeopardize New Jersey's waiver status. Citing Washington State as the poster child for what can happen if the State contemplated delay, other speakers, including the NJPSA and ELC, cited the number of other states, including Kentucky, Colorado, California and others who have successfully obtained flexibility around timelines for implementation of PARCC and teacher/principal evaluation.
The bill was up for discussion only.
In addition, the committee took testimony on A-2176 (Ruiz), which seeks to develop a taskforce to examine all forms of assessment in New Jersey Schools. NJPSA is also a member of that taskforce. The Association supports the measure. The matter was up for discussion only.
Out-of-School Time Taskforce
Further, the Committee approved a measure, S-300 (Rice/Greenstein), that establishes a taskforce to examine out-of-school or after-school initiatives around the State. The body is tasked with:
1) assess the state of out-of-school time programs in New Jersey by reviewing the policies of all State agencies that fund before-school, after-school or summer programs, as well as review existing research and best practices;
2) adopt appropriate Statewide standards for out-of-school time program design, implementation and assessment;
3) examine the existing amount of funding available for out-of-school time programs and the source of the funding; and
4) examine the development and operation of out-of-school time programs in urban, suburban and rural school districts, and make recommendations to increase the accountability and quality of the before-school, after-school and summer programs.
NJPSA testified in support of the initiative.
CPR Training for Students
In addition, the Committee approved legislation, S-235 (Allen/Vitale), that would require districts to provide CPR training to students in high school beginning with the incoming 2014/15 school year freshman class. NJPSA worked with the sponsors to ensure that districts have proper time to implement the legislation before its effective date and also successfully sought an amendment to ensure that a district requirement would not disadvantage a student’s ability to graduate should a student not complete the training. NJPSA supports the measure as amended.