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NJEA NEWS

April 8, 2021

Congratulations! Because of your advocacy, New Jersey students will not be required to take the NJ-SLA standardized test assessment this spring.

Yesterday, the US Department of Education agreed that New Jersey’s proposal to replace NJ-SLA with less intrusive and more helpful assessments complies with federal guidelines.

As a result, New Jersey students will have more hours available this school year for real learning.

This was possible because more than 20,000 NJEA members wrote to our state and federal officials demanding what was best for our students. Every email made a difference and our combined advocacy added up to a big win for our students.

As always, thank you for everything you are doing during this uniquely challenging year to keep our students safe, healthy and learning.

In solidarity,

Marie Blistan, President
New Jersey Education Association

Sean M. Spiller, Vice President
New Jersey Education Association

Steve Beatty, Secretary-Treasurer
New Jersey Education Association

Federal Assessment Waiver, March 31, 2021

The last thing New Jersey students need this spring is to lose precious instruction time to take standardized tests. As educators, we know those tests are not capable of measuring what has happened during this extraordinarily challenging year.

The U.S. Department of Education is currently considering New Jersey’s application to waive the federal standardized testing requirement this spring. If the waiver is granted, New Jersey will have the flexibility to gather real-time data that will help schools provide students with the support and resources they need as we emerge from this pandemic. 

Please take a minute right now to send an email to our federal decision-makers asking them to support and approve New Jersey’s waiver application. Let them know that New Jersey stands with students!

Thank you for advocating for our students’ educational best interests this spring!

Please CLICK HERE to ask U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to grant New Jersey’s request for a standardized testing waiver this year.

Thanks to your emails and phone calls, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) requested waivers from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to enable our students to skip annual standardized testing this spring, and to avoid the high stakes associated with those tests.

Yesterday, USDOE granted New Jersey’s request for a waiver on the high stakes. The USDOE is still deciding whether to grant New Jersey’s request for a standardized testing waiver.

Please CLICK HERE to ask U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to grant New Jersey’s request for a standardized testing waiver.

Why New Jersey needs a testing waiver

Superintendents, principals and teachers across New Jersey have spoken out against standardized testing this spring, pointing out that it is not necessary because “districts already collect considerable data on students that can be used to pinpoint needs in the face of the pandemic and the loss of instruction time, be it remote or in-person.”

Administering the tests would also be a logistical nightmare as so many New Jersey students are learning remotely. In a preview of those challenges, many students who took AP exams remotely last spring were unable to submit their answers, had problems logging into the testing platform, and experienced issues with Internet connectivity.

Many more students would be taking this spring’s NJSLA tests (formerly known as PARCC) than took AP exams. The NJSLA is also a much longer test than the 45-minute AP exams. Students taking NJSLA would be younger as the tests start in 3rd grade versus high school. Finally, students taking the NJSLA would be less likely to have access to functioning computers and a good internet connection, exacerbating economic inequities in test results.

There also is no clear path for how to proctor remote administration of the NJSLA. Researchers have identified many problems with the technology used to proctor remote exams, including invasion of privacy and questions of data confidentiality and racial bias built into some monitoring software.

New Jersey students of all ages have had their learning significantly disrupted by the pandemic and are experiencing unprecedented levels of economic and health anxiety and stress. Administering a statewide standardized assessment under the current circumstances will not produce valid or useful information and will only further reduce the already limited time available for effective teaching and learning.

VACCINE INFORMATION

We are happy to share with you that Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo has arranged for priority access for the Covid 19 vaccine for all educators who live or work in Essex County!  Appointments are currently available on March 23-26, and they are being filled on a first come, first served basis.

If you are still looking for a vaccine appointment, click here to register.

We will continue to share information about vaccination opportunities for NJEA members as it becomes available.

WAIVER INFORMATION

Today (3/18/21), New Jersey submitted its application for a federal standardized testing waiver this spring. While it is obvious to educators and parents that traditional standardized tests have no place in this very non-standard school year, the US Department of Education and the Biden Administration have not been willing to commit to granting New Jersey’s waiver request.

Our students don’t need another standardized test. They need every available minute for real learning! Please take a moment today to email Education Secretary Cardona, President Biden and the members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation. Urge the USDOE to approve New Jersey’s waiver request and protect our students’ learning time and social-emotional well-being this spring.