Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Andrew Zwicker, which would require the Department of Education to quantify the impact remote instruction has had on students around the state, unanimously passed the Senate today. Senator Ruiz has continually raised concerns about learning loss since schools first closed in March of 2020.
“The pandemic has taken an immense toll on our students. If we are genuinely committed to addressing learning loss and closing the achievement gap we must take a closer look at our areas of greatest need to ensure we are spending our dollars in the most effective way possible to get our students back on track,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “As we move forward it is important we have the necessary data to determine policy, regulations, and investments.”
The bill, S-2268, would require the DOE to compile a learning loss report that identifies and quantifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student academic outcomes. The report would provide analysis broken down by various factors including, district size, grade and subject areas as well as students race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability or disability and English language proficiency.
“The last few years have been one of the most challenging periods for education, placing an unimaginable burden on teachers and our students,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “Preexisting achievement gaps, especially among historically disadvantaged students, were made significantly worse and most students saw learning losses from remote education. We need an accurate understanding of the depth and breadth of learning loss so that we can work to ensure every student is able to catch up and succeed. This bill will give the state and our families the data we need to make crucial decisions about the interventions and strategies required to prevent further learning declines.”
The bill would also require a complete report on schools’ operation from mid-March 2020 until the bill’s effective date outlining instruction formats, student and teacher access to technology, attendance rates and policies, and social-emotional supports provided, as well as other relevant data and information surrounding the student success. Under the bill, the academic report would be due May 2023 and the complete report would be due the following September.