Diegnan, Jasey & Wimberly Bill to Prevent School Districts from Having State Aid Withheld Based on Student PARCC Participation Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan, Mila Jasey and Benjie Wimberly to prevent the state from unjustly punishing a school district, by withholding state aid because the majority of the district’s students refuse to take the PARCC test is now law.

Earlier this year, the state commissioner of education suggested the possibility of withholding state aid if a significant number of students in a district do not take an assessment.

“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 (D-Middlesex), who chairs the Assembly Education Committee and sponsored a bill to allow parents to opt their children out of the PARCC test. “Losing funds would put school districts already stretching their dollars in a financial predicament. This law will prevent districts from being penalized for matters beyond their control and protect students who would ultimately be the ones hurt by such an action.”

The law (A-4485) prohibits 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.

“Threatening to cut funding will only further alienate parents who chose to opt out of the PARCC because they did not trust that the test was in the best academic interest of their children,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Many school districts are dealing with the repercussions of having their state aid reduced over the years. Withholding these funds over student participation would ultimately hurt the students.”

“Punishing schools for decisions they did not make makes no sense. These parents refused the PARCC out of concern over the test and its effects on the academic future of their kids. By cutting school state aid, the commissioner is inadvertently proving their point,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Fewer funds mean fewer resources which will affect the caliber of education these students receive. Instead of pressuring parents into compliance the commissioner should be working to ease those concerns.”