Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 117 on April 7 to suspend the exit-testing requirement for the Class of 2020. There are approximately 13,000 seniors in the state of New Jersey who have yet to meet the exit-testing requirement. If these students have met all credit, attendance, and local graduation requirements, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:8, they will be eligible to graduate without fulfilling the exit-test requirement.

The executive order states that the “statutory graduation assessment requirement mandated by N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-1 et seq. is waived for any 12th-grade student who is expected to graduate in the class of 2020 but, as of March 18, 2020, had not met said graduation assessment requirement.” 

Over the past few weeks, NJEA has been working with the governor’s office and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to advocate for the suspension of statewide standardized testing and exit-testing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Order addresses educator evaluation

Executive Order 117 gives the commissioner of education permission to “waive, suspend, or modify any existing rules” within Title 6A of the New Jersey Administrative Code in order to protect the public welfare during the COVID-19 crisis.

The executive order waives the “statutory requirement of three observations and evaluations for all nontenured teaching staff.” Based on this information, it is NJEA’s position that this school year will count toward the accrual of tenure for nontenured teaching staff members even if they have not been observed three times. This executive order, however, does not alter districts’ discretion to non-renew nontenured teaching staff members. Likewise, teaching staff members on provisional certifications may continue their path toward standard certification.

The executive order also states that “student growth data shall not be used as a measure of educator effectiveness in the overall evaluation of any educator.” Therefore, teaching staff members cannot be directed to administer or submit student growth objectives (SGOs) as a portion of their annual summative rating. With the cancellation of statewide assessment, median student growth percentile (mSGP) data will likewise not be available to include in teaching staff member evaluations for 2019-20.

As the Review went to press on April 15, NJDOE has announced that tenured teachers in good standing will be given ratings of NE for “Not Evaluated.” The NJDOE also communicated a process for calculating scores for nontenured and provisionally certified teachers as well as teachers with corrective action plans (CAPs). The NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues Division immediately began analyzing the NJDOE’s interpretation of the executive order and issued an advisory to association field staff in order to assist local associations. Go to
njea.org/covid and scroll down to the “NJEA Professional Development Guidance” section for that advisory and the latest information. Should you have any concerns about how your evaluation is being handled, contact your local association president.

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