The Joint Committee on the Public Schools met virtually on Wednesday, February 8th to receive testimony from invited guests regarding preschool and early childhood education. Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-28) announced she will retire from the Assembly at the end of her current term, leaving behind a longstanding legacy on public education. And the Assembly Education Committee met on Thursday, February 9th to consider a number of education-related measures including two bills that seek to address the teacher shortage, and one that would eliminate the high school graduation proficiency test. NJPSA Executive Director Karen Bingert presented the results of the NJPSA Member Survey on Student Assessment to the Legislative Committee, while testifying as to how the assessment landscape has shifted over the past decade. Your NJPSA Government Relations team was there for it all, and have the full report for you.
A bill that would prohibit the State Board of Education from limiting the number of certain two-year college credits that may be applied towards meeting teacher certification requirements.
A-3227 would prohibit the State Board of Education from limiting the number of professional education credits earned at a regionally accredited two-year college that may be applied towards meeting the requirements for teacher certification, provided that the credits are accepted by a State-approved college professional education preparation program. Current State board regulations provide that, for most candidates for teacher certification, no more than six credits earned in the field of professional education at a regionally accredited two-year college can be applied towards meeting the requirements for teacher certification. As a result, a student who has completed more than six credits in the field of professional education at a regionally accredited two-year college prior to his enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year institution of higher education will have to repeat some of his coursework, resulting in increased education costs and a delay in program completion. The Committee voted unanimously to advance this bill. The bill is now on 2nd Reading in the Assembly. NJPSA Supports this bill.
A bill that would revise various provisions of law governing construction of school facilities projects and operations of New Jersey Schools Development Authority
A-4496. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) attended the Assembly Education Committee to testify in support of his bill that would revise various provisions of law governing construction of school facilities projects and operations of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.. This is the third time the Assembly Education Committee has held a hearing on this bill. Today, the Committee voted unanimously to advance this bill. NJPSA has been engaged in the legislation and provided a statement expressing appreciation for previously approved amendments that addressed concerns identified in previous testimony, while outlining remaining concerns that should be addressed should the bill move through the legislative process. The bill was reported as an Assembly Committee Substitute and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. NJPSA has expressed concerns about this bill.
A bill that would permit the State Board of Education to authorize alternate teaching certifications
NJPSA supported this legislation after receiving important amendments from the sponsor.
This legislation requires the State Board of Education to authorize the issuance of an “alternative certificate” of eligibility or certificate of eligibility with advanced standing” without having to take the Praxis Core test of basic reading, writing and mathematics. The elimination of this basic skills test, was heralded by NJPSA, the NJEA and other education associations as unnecessary and long overdue since teacher candidates demonstrate basic skills mastery in other ways including their college degree and GPA requirements. The holder of this “alternative” certificate will be eligible to receive a standard certificate from the State Board upon completion of four years of continuous employment as a teacher in school district, charter school, renaissance school project or approved private school for students with disabilities provided that the teacher completes all applicable requirements for the standard certificate. The tenure law will be applied in the same manner as traditional or alternate route candidates with no additional requirements. The bill will go into effect when passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The legislation has a five-year sunset provision attached to allow review of the effectiveness of this new approach to teacher certification. The bill was unanimously voted out of Committee with amendments, and is now on 2nd Reading in the Assembly. NJPSA supports this bill as amended.
A bill that would require the Commissioner of Education to distribute surveys to school districts regarding instruction on Holocaust and genocides.
A-4720 This bill would direct the Commissioner of Education to develop and distribute, within 60 days of the bill’s effective date, a survey regarding instruction on the Holocaust and genocides to the public schools of the State. The survey will focus on how each school district is meeting the instruction requirements established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1994, c.13 (C.18A:35-28), which requires every board of education to include instruction on the Holocaust and genocides in an appropriate place in the curriculum of all elementary and secondary school students. The survey will be required to include questions, for all grade levels, on: curriculum content; learning goals; instructional strategies and activities; texts and resources; and assessments. NJPSA supported the establishment of this curricular requirement many years ago, when it was first introduced, due to the importance of teaching our students about this tragic period of our world’s history. We continue to strongly support this instruction today. However, NJPSA is seeking two amendments to this bill. The first is a request that the survey required under this bill be a streamlined survey that does not duplicate the level of comprehensive review that occurs during state monitoring. We also asked for an amendment that removes the provisions that would place a district on a corrective action plan if determined to be in noncompliance with the curricular requirement. NJPSA believes that CAPS are an inappropriate approach that is overreaching for the completion of a curriculum survey, and requested that the bill be amended to remove this provision. NJPSA Director of Government Relations Debbie Bradley testified that NJDOE’s NJQSAC monitoring process focuses on a supportive, not a “gotcha” approach to constructively assist districts where gaps are found. We believe that should be the approach of this bill, information gathering and support if gaps exist. At this time, the Sponsor has declined to accept our recommendations. Read NJPSA’s position statement here. The Committee voted unanimously to advance this bill. The bill has now been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. NJPSA testified with concerns about this bill.
For Discussion Only (No Vote Taken): A bill that would eliminate the high school graduation proficiency test
A-4639 would prohibit the State Board of Education from including in the standards for graduation from high school a requirement that students achieve satisfactory performance on the Statewide graduation proficiency test. The bill would also amend current law to remove various references to the graduation proficiency test, including: the requirement that a Statewide proficiency test be included in the State or district standards for graduation from high school; the requirement that an out-of-school youth or adult age 18 or older pass the graduation proficiency test before being granted a State endorsed diploma; the requirement that school district report cards include information regarding the results of the graduation proficiency test; and the requirement that renaissance school projects be evaluated based on students’ performance on the graduation proficiency test. The bill clarifies that a student participating in the State Seal of Biliteracy program would not be required to take a State graduation proficiency test as a condition of graduation from high school. Finally, the bill would repeal the section of law that requires the State to administer a graduation proficiency test to all 11th grade students and certain 12th grade students, and repeals the section of law that requires the Commissioner of Education to consult with educators, parents, students, business and community representatives, and members of minority groups while developing the graduation proficiency test. The bill also seeks to repeal sections of law requiring the commissioner and the Joint Committee on the Public Schools to review and report on performance on the graduation proficiency test.
This bill was posted “for discussion only”, which means the committee took no action today. The bill would have to be posted for consideration at another hearing in order for the committee to cast a vote. NJPSA Executive Director Karen Bingert submitted testimony and presented the Committee members with the results from our Member survey on Student Assessment. Read more about the high school exit exam and survey results in this article.
If you would like to discuss, or have questions about any of the legislative initiatives that moved this week, please contact your NJPSA Government Relations team. Department Director Debbie Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org or Assistant Director Jennie Lamon email@example.com.
If you are interested in legislation and education policy, please consider joining the NJPSA Legislative Committee. We meet approximately every other month to discuss and develop positions on pending legislation and regulations. We always have lively and often entertaining discussions! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to join our committee! Please enjoy the weekend, and remember to unplug and take some time for self-care. We appreciate your advocacy – and all that you do.