COVID-19 school closures prompts cancellation of spring statewide assessments

The following press release was submitted by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Given the continued threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to school communities and the resulting school closures, Governor Phil Murphy on March 24 announced the state is cancelling all statewide student assessments for the spring 2020 testing window.

Cancellation includes the springtime administration of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA), ACCESS for ELLs and the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessment.

The federal Department of Education (USDE) has notified states it will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing relief from federally mandated testing, accountability, and reporting requirements for this school year.

With students unable to attend school due to the COVID-19-related closures, it is not feasible to move forward with statewide testing. As such, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has applied for the waiver and the USDE has granted approval of the waiver.

New Jersey will not be required to administer a statewide assessment for federal accountability purposes.

The Department of Education acknowledges that cancelling statewide assessments will impact various aspects of education, including educator evaluations and certification, and school and district accountability. It recognize educators, students, and families will have questions. It is working to mitigate any unintended consequences, and will work through multiple channels to keep stakeholders fully informed of updated guidance and other changes.

Cancellation of statewide assessments will not prevent students from meeting their graduation assessment requirements. The NJDOE continues to process portfolio appeals for the small percentage of current seniors who have not yet met their graduation assessment requirement.

The department will make the NJSLA available in the summer or fall for current high school freshman, sophomores and juniors (and middle school students taking high school-level courses) who may want to use the NJSLA high school assessments to meet their graduation assessment requirements.

Current juniors and sophomores have access to the menu of alternate assessments (the SAT, etc.) and the portfolio appeal process as pathways to complete their graduation assessment requirement. These students are not required to take the NJSLA to access the menu of alternate assessments or the portfolio appeal process.

The NJDOE’s COVID-19 webpage has more information on these (and other) issues as it becomes available by visiting NJ.gov/Education.