Trenton – In an effort to address the challenging learning environments created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate Education Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner and Senator Patrick Diegnan which would allow certain students to repeat the grade level which they were enrolled in for the 2020-2021 school year.
“Remote learning has not been the ideal situation for every student, especially students in low-income districts who lack the equipment or connectivity to even show up to the online classroom,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “In New Jersey, we are constitutionally required to provide students with a thorough and efficient education, but parents and teachers have reported to me that over the past year, that has not happened. We cannot afford to allow students to be shuffled through the system. Parents should have the option of having their children repeat the grade if they feel it is in the best interest of their children and their long-term success.”
The bill, S-3470, would allow students enrolled in any grade from kindergarten through 12 during the 2020-2021 school year to repeat that grade level during the 2021-2022 school year. Under the bill, a parent or guardian’s request to retain their student must be submitted in writing by June 1, 2021.
“Remote learning has helped us navigate our way through the academic calendar while we continue to work through the current public health crisis. It is clearly not an ideal situation for our students and a number of them have struggled due to this format,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Parents are seeing this struggle firsthand. Affording them the option to request that their child repeat their current grade would ensure that students are not perpetually trying to catch up due to their struggles with remote learning.”
The superintendent of the district would have the discretion to approve or deny any written request of grade retention submitted by the parent, guardian or other person having legal custody of the student after June 1, 2021.
School districts would be required to report the number of students who repeat a grade level pursuant to the provisions of this bill to the Department of Education by June 1, 2022.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-1.