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Ruiz Issues Statement on Department of Education Announcement

Collaborative discussions lead to a path forward
Trenton – Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz issued the following statement on today’s announcement:
“While I do not support a request for a waiver from the federal government to suspend statewide assessments, I am encouraged by the different pathways that Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan is exploring for the collection of data. Our conversations this week have been robust and centered on the critical need to tackle learning loss now and in the future.
“Since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago, I have been warning of the devastating learning loss that has impacted our districts. The shift in the department’s approach to collection of data is closely aligned with S.3214 that called for measures precisely like these. All of this is in an effort, not to create punitive measures, but to at least get a snapshot of where our children are statewide. While the data collected does not provide the same level of detail that a statewide summative assessment would, it can help us address the current need.
“Acting Commissioner Allen-McMillan has started to lay out the foundation for long-term strategies like diagnostic check-ins both now and at the beginning of the next school year, grant opportunities to provide funding for academic and social and emotional learning supports, and early childhood initiatives.
“This outline will begin to shift the role of the Department of Education to a repository of data and a resource of best practices and policy for our students, families, school districts and staff. These efforts may have risen because of the pandemic, but together we can create a roadmap that will bridge our recovery to ensure that every school district can hold the status of number one in education in the nation. I commend the Acting Commissioner’s willingness in taking these first steps and I will continue to work with the Department of Education to assist our districts in this crisis to help our students and teachers and close the achievement gap in the state.”