TRENTON, NJ – Senator Holly Schepisi today called for the Legislature to act swiftly in lame duck and pass a bill that would require the Commissioner of Education to prepare a report on learning loss and the operation of public schools during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“We’re going to have to help students make up the educational ground they lost during the pandemic, and the first step is understanding the severity of the problem,” said Schepisi (R-39), citing a national study that concluded student learning suffered substantially from remote schooling due to COVID.
“This is a serious challenge for parents and the education community. If our children are going to remain competitive with students from other states and nations, we must act immediately to study the impact of learning loss in New Jersey and determine what measures need to be implemented moving forward to mitigate this loss,” Schepisi continued.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) report published this week, remote schooling during the 2020-21 academic year contributed to “highly significant” learning loss.
The NBER study utilized scores from standardized tests administered to students across the nation last spring.
“Overall, our data suggest significant learning losses as measured by state assessments as a result of the pandemic, and larger losses in districts with less access to in-person learning. From a policy standpoint, our results highlight the non-health implications of the pandemic, which may be longlasting,” the study stated. “These data also highlight the value of in-person learning and may provide a caution when considering school closures in the future.”
Schepisi urged legislative action on a bill (S-3214) previously approved by the Senate that would quantify the impact of pandemic disruptions on student academic outcomes.
Approved 38-1 by the Senate last December, the measure was amended in the Assembly and now must pass votes on the floors of both houses before the end of the current Legislative Session on January 11.
“There are so many lessons we can learn, and this is too important not to get it done now. The bill can help get students back on the track to success,” said Schepisi, noting she intends to sign on as a sponsor of the bill to demonstrate the bipartisan recognition that learning loss related to the pandemic is a real problem that we must work together to address.
“By measuring the academic losses of the pandemic, New Jersey schools will be better prepared to alleviate any long-term impact on learning and prevent significant setbacks to workforce development in the state,” said Schepisi.