May 9, 2022

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, passed the Senate Education Committee 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, which would be due to the Legislature and the Governor 60 days after enactment, 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.


“In every sense, this pandemic has hit minority and low-income communities the hardest and it is crucial that our recovery efforts take that into account,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “Many of our students who were already struggling have been further set back due to a lack of access to technology and difficulty connecting with their teachers. We must be calculated in our attempts to bring these students back up to speed and that can only happen if we have the necessary data to identify our greatest areas of need.”


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.