TRENTON, NJ -- Gov. Phil Murphy today signed an Executive Order that 1) waives the graduation assessment test requirement for any current high school senior who has satisfied all other statutory graduation requirements, 2) removes student growth objectives as a component of formal educator evaluations for the 2020-21 school year, and 3) extends the time in which certified teachers, or those in the process of becoming certified teachers can serve as substitute teachers during the public health emergency.
“The pandemic has presented significant challenges to school districts across our State that have affected our administrators, educators, staff, and students,” added Murphy. “Today’s executive order will provide sensible adjustments to support our school districts during this unprecedented time.”
“Today’s action, which provides a meaningful step towards helping our education system adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19, is the direct result of ongoing engagement with stakeholders,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “This collaboration will help ensure that districts have the flexibility needed to better address students’ and educators’ instructional and support needs, while maintaining stability and continuity in classroom instruction.”
Effective immediately, the Executive Order 214 (EO 214) will direct the following:
1. Waive Graduation Assessment Requirement
To receive a high school diploma in New Jersey, a student must demonstrate proficiency on a state assessment and satisfy statutory requirements with respect to credits, curriculum content, and attendance. E) 214 will waive the graduation proficiency test requirement for all 12th grade students who have not yet met the requirement. All other statutory graduation requirements remain in place.
"Each of these steps is being taken because given the unique challenges our students and educators are facing, we simply have to all reach the conclusion that this is not, as we've said from moment one, this is not a normal or regular school year," Murphy said.
2. Remove Student Growth Objectives from Teacher Evaluations
Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) are measurable and specific academic goals for groups of students set by educators in consultation with their supervisors. In light of the pandemic, EO 214 will remove SGOs as a component of formal educator evaluations for the 2020-21 school year. All educators will be evaluated solely on observations conducted by supervisors, principals, or other school leaders. SGOs may still be utilized for other purposes, such as professional development.
"We have to be more flexible and more understanding. Given the limited availability of opportunities to meet the state's graduation proficiency test requirements, this order waives the requirement for the class of 2021 and ensures that they are still able to graduate as expected, so long as all credit curriculum standards and attendance benchmarks are met," Murphy said.
3. Extend Service Time Limitations for Certain Substitutes
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, EO 214 will help districts manage the increase in temporary and permanent teacher vacancies by allowing (1) those in the process of becoming certificated teachers to fill teaching vacancies for a maximum of 60 school days instead of 20 school days; and 2) fully certificated teachers who are currently employed as substitutes in an area outside their credentials to fill teaching vacancies for a maximum of 60 school days, instead of 40 school days.
To read Executive Order 214, click here.
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