TRENTON — The state and groups that successfully sued over how PARCC gets used as a high school testing requirement have reached a court-approved agreement clarifying how current seniors and juniors qualify for graduation.

The agreement between the state Department of Education and the Education Law Center and American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey puts off the immediate effective date of a Dec. 31 appeals court ruling that could have left around 170,000 soon-to-be graduates in limbo.

The graduation options for the current seniors will also be available to the Class of 2020. The deal provides enough time for the Murphy administration, which wants to phase out the use of PARCC, to propose new graduation testing requirements for the current freshman and sophomore classes.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement that safeguards the graduation rights of seniors and juniors who relied on the rules invalidated by the Court,” said Jessica Levin, a senior attorney for the Education Law Center. “We look forward to working collaboratively with state officials to develop appropriate graduation policies for future classes.”

The way the state has used the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, as an exit exam under 2016 doesn’t comply with state law, an appeals court ruled.

Education advocacy groups have fought the 2016 regulations, which phase out some alternatives to qualify for graduation other than passing the exam, which the state has renamed as the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments.

The agreement would seem to mean that the Legislature does not have to pass a bill, S3381/A4957, amending state law to allow the old rules to apply for current seniors and juniors and eliminating a requirement that the test be specifically administered in 11th grade.

The bill had already been listed on the Senate agenda for Thursday’s session and remained there as of Wednesday afternoon, though not every bill listed winds up being called for a vote.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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