New Jersey Legislature Passes Arts Grade Weighting Bill
On January 11, 2016, the New Jersey Legislature passed our Arts Education Grade Weighting Bill A311 in a unanimous vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The bill now goes to Governor Christie for signature. We do not know at this point if he will sign the bill. We are cautiously optimistic.
The bill’s passage is the culmination of nearly nine years of work. The issue of unequal grade weighting was first illuminated in the 2007 Census report Within Our Power. The report showed more than 20% of high schools reported unequal grade weighting of arts courses. The arbitrary and unequal grade weighting between similar courses creates an artificial barrier to students who have a desire to participate in the arts. When a school district applies unequal weighting for equal courses students are forced to choose between their passion and their grade point average and class rank. This is not only unfair… but it flies in the face of our own educational expectations. We are now at the final step of removing this barrier once and for all.
The text of the bill is as follows:
AN ACT concerning the calculation of pupil grade point averages and supplementing chapter 35 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.
BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. A school district shall weight courses in the visual and performing arts equally with other courses of the same level of academic rigor and worth the same number of credits in calculating a pupil’s grade point average.
1. As used in this section, “academic rigor” means a course’s classification as a general education course, an honors course, or an advanced placement course.
This act shall take effect immediately and shall first apply to the first full school year following the date of enactment.
We are grateful to all our legislative partners. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick deserves a special thank you. His family was personally impacted by unequal grade weighting when his daughter was in high school. Leader Bramnick has been a strong ally for this issue and worked to assemble bi-partisan support for the bill.
Significant credit belongs to the bill’s legislative sponsors. They include:
Jon M. Bramnick – Primary Sponsor
Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. – Primary Sponsor
Bonnie Watson Coleman – Primary Sponsor
Mila M. Jasey – Co-Sponsor
Craig J. Coughlin – Co-Sponsor
Teresa Ruiz – Primary Sponsor
Thomas H. Kean, Jr. – Primary Sponsor
We will provide additional updates once we know the Governor’s intention for the bill.
Testimony Before the Assembly Education Committee Assembly Bill #A311- Grade Weighting of Arts Education Courses