Trenton – In an effort to support students adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate Education Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker that would establish in the Department of Education a three-year “Twelfth Grade Postsecondary Transition Year Pilot Program.” The pilot program would focus on 12th grade students and provide a guided start to postsecondary coursework, through the use of targeted supports and no-cost courses.
“The pandemic had a devastating effect on learning across our state, and in some cases served to derail the hopes and dreams of students with aspirations of going to college,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “While dual enrollment programs have become quite popular in recent years, the aim of this bill is greater access, especially for low-income and first-generation college students.”
Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education would select two school districts in each of the southern, central, and northern regions of the State to participate in the program and would seek a cross section of school districts from urban, suburban, and rural areas of the State.
“Across our state, learning loss brought on by the pandemic has pushed back the goals of thousands of achieving students who deserve the chance to pursue a postsecondary degree. This pilot program will give them a second chance, and offer the opportunity to further their studies, and keep career goals on track,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer).
Priority in the selected districts would be given to those impacted substantially by the COVID-19 public health crisis and that have a high proportion of economically disadvantaged students and low rates of college enrollment among recent high school graduates.
The bill would require the participating institution of higher learning to waive student fees and charge the partnering district no more than $100 per academic credit for each participating student.
The bill, S-2076, was released from the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 4-0.