Trenton – Following the Department of Education’s announcement on statewide assessments and the issuing of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation report on remote education, Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz, who has continually raised concerns about learning loss since schools first closed in March, introduced legislation today which would require the Department of Education to quantify the impact remote instruction has had on students around the state.
“More than ever, it is abundantly clear there is a need for real-time data on where our children stand academically,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “If we are genuinely committed to closing the achievement gap we must acknowledge there was a divide pre-COVID, we must assess to see where we are now, in the midst of the pandemic, and we must invest post-COVID to ensure that gap does not continue to grow the way it has over the last eight months.
“The report issued yesterday has proven what we feared would be the case, which is that minority, low-income families are struggling the most with remote instruction. Additionally, with the postponement of the Fall block of assessments, we cannot wait for the results of Spring standardized tests. We need data as soon as possible so we can take action and prevent further learning loss amongst our most vulnerable students.”
The bill would require the DOE to compile a learning loss report that identifies and quantifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student academic outcomes. The report, which would be due to the Legislature and the Governor 60 days after enactment, would provide analysis broken down by various factors including district size, grade and subject areas as well as students’ race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability or disability and English language proficiency.
The bill would also require a complete report on schools’ operation from mid-March until the bill’s effective date outlining instruction formats, student and teacher access to technology, attendance rates and policies, and social-emotional supports provided, as well as other relevant data and information surrounding student success.
The Department of Education announced yesterday that there would not be any standardized tests held in the Fall; instead, Fall assessments will be included with the Spring assessments. Also yesterday, the New Jersey Children’s Foundation issued a report alongside JerseyCAN and the Global Strategy Group on the impact of the coronavirus on the new school year.