New Jersey high school juniors will be required to take a new New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA) test in March 2023, but the results with be exempt as a graduation prerequisite for the class.
That’s after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law ahead of his summer trip to Italy which would utilize the new NJGPA as a field test.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Shirley K. Turner (D-15), State Sen. Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-18), Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28), Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-6), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), and Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-16), was designed to help assess the impact of disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.
Learning Loss Effects
“We do not yet know the full extent of learning loss from disruptions to students’ routines and remote learning during the pandemic, and to place more pressure on students to be able to graduate only adds to students’ psychological and emotional stress and especially burdens certain groups of students,” said Turner.
“This class of students that spent their first two years in a non-traditional learning environment and the NJGPA would not be an accurate or fair assessment of their academic abilities. The State Board and education leaders will now be given the ability to fully consider what is the most effective way to determine if our students are prepared to enter the workforce and go on to college,” added Diegnan.
The original NJGPA exit test was suspended for three years due to a 2018 lawsuit by the Education Law Center, which claimed the state violated its own law by giving the high school test to 10th graders. However, the courts upheld the law and directed the state to administer a new test for 11th graders in 2022.
The effects of the pandemic, which moved the classroom into the home, could also impact results. This effect could exacerbated depending on locations, as well.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created major setbacks for our students and their ability to thoroughly learn during home instruction,” said Senator Diegnan
“Students in economically disadvantaged districts went longer without computers and the internet, preventing them from participating in online classes or doing schoolwork. Offering the exam as a field test will help to provide valuable data on how our students are faring without increasing the risk of pushing some students to drop out when they cannot meet the higher score,” added Turner.
Informing Future Tests
The Assembly sponsors of the bill noted the results of the test would be used to inform the development of new State graduation proficiency tests for future graduating classes.
“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. It is unfair and unconscionable to spring a new test on rising seniors and raise the stakes as they are so close to graduation,” said the Assembly Democrats in a joint statement.