TRENTON, NJ – Landmark legislation was passed Monday that prohibits the state from withholding school aid to school districts based on standardized test participation.

Sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill, S-2881 has now been signed into law.

This legislation S-2881, was in response to media reports indicating that the state Education Commissioner Hespe suggested withholding aid from districts if a significant share of the students in the district did not take the assessment developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

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“We could not allow the state to penalize local districts by withholding funding based upon arbitrary criteria set by the commissioner. After meeting with local parents in my district, and discussing the potential repercussions of aid losses based upon participation in PARCC, we decided there was a need to protect the state’s children,” said Senator Gill. “This law will prevent the state from taking action against a district related to participation in standardized tests, whether it is the PARCC test or any future state assessment conducted in New Jersey.”

During the Montclair Board of Ed Workshop meeting on November 2, Montclair District officials pondered how to proceed given the 65% opt out rate of Montclair students.

Following media reports indicating the commissioner’s suggestion of withholding state aid, Senator Gill, who represents the 34th legislative district including Montclair, sprung into action by sending a letter to Education Commissioner Hespe seeking clarification on his statement.

In response, Gill stated that the commissioner confirmed he wished for the department to retain the right to withhold funding based on student participation in standardized tests.

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 60-15-3. It was approved in the Senate by a vote of 31-7.

The law takes effect immediately.