Diegnan Bill to Prevent School Districts from Having State Aid Withheld Based on Student PARCC Participation Advances

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan to prevent the state from unjustly punishing school districts by withholding state aid because the majority of the district’s students refuse to take the PARCC test.

According to recent news articles, the state commissioner of education has suggested the possibility of withholding state aid if a significant number of students in a district do not take an assessment. This bill would prevent districts from being penalized for matters beyond their control.

“Threatening to cut state aid to districts for a decision made entirely by parents – a decision they believe is in the best interest of their children – is unreasonable,” said Diegnan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee and sponsored the Assembly bill to allow parents to opt their children out of the PARCC test. “The stance taken by the commissioner does nothing to quell the frustration that many parents feel towards the PARCC, and risks pitting parents and schools against each other.”

The bill (A-4485) would prohibit the state Commissioner of Education from withholding state school aid from a school district based on the participation rate of its students on the state assessments.

“Rather than intimidating parents into submission, the commissioner should be working to ease the fears of parents who have lingering concerns about these new assessments so that they get on board willingly,” said Diegnan. “Many school districts have seen their state aid reduced over the years. Withholding these funds over student participation would only hurt the schools and the students.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.