Murphy, Allen-McMillan discuss Road Forward initiative, request for waiver of statewide testing

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan on Feb. 19 provided details on two new grants that are meant to address learning gaps and mental health issues in New Jersey school districts.

The $75 million Learning Acceleration Grant and the $30 million Mental Health Grant are among the efforts within The Road Forward, which Murphy described as “the most comprehensive plan being put forth by any American state.” Grant applications will be released March 15.

Murphy also said New Jersey will submit a request to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver of statewide standardized testing administration.

If the waiver is granted, “districts will not be required to administer our suite of statewide assessments this spring,” Allen-McMillan said.

“New Jersey is almost done closing its digital divide, and with the Learning Acceleration Grant, now our state can work toward closing its learning gap,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “The pandemic has certainly exacerbated emotional disorders, so the Mental Health Grant will go a long way in supporting our students and educators in need. And given that the pandemic has kept New Jersey students from a formal test setting for many months, we fully support requesting a federal waiver to waive statewide assessments.”