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Proposed Bill In New Jersey Would Allow Parents To Decide If Student Should Repeat Grade

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New Jersey students struggling to make the grade because of the pandemic might be able to repeat a year. A proposed bill in the New Jersey Senate would give parents the right to determine if their child should repeat their current grade; CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

Video Transcript

MAURICE DUBOIS: New Jersey students struggling to make the grade because of the pandemic might be able to repeat a grade as we welcome you back here at 5:30. I'm Maurice DuBois.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: And I'm Kristine Johnson. The amount of learning loss due to the pandemic is still unknown.

MAURICE DUBOIS: But a proposed bill would give parents the right to determine if their child should repeat their current grade. CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

MEG BAKER: Dr. Tamika Covington fears that virtual learning has caused her son to fall behind.

TAMIKA COVINGTON: Not being able to have that personal touch from teachers and guidance counselors.

MEG BAKER: She wants him to repeat his senior year and thinks parents should be able to make that decision.

TAMIKA COVINGTON: They're able to see what their child's needs are and some of the gaps in learning that have occurred over this past year.

MEG BAKER: Right now in New Jersey, parents can request their child be retained, but it's a collaborative decision with the school district. Under a proposed new law, parents would have until June 1 to determine if their child should repeat their current grade. State Senator Shirley Turner says it's about equity. Many students in urban areas didn't have a parent guiding them, and some didn't even have internet access.

SHIRLEY TURNER: Those are primarily the students who are having the greatest amount of loss, not just academically but socially, emotionally, as well as physically.

MEG BAKER: But Patricia Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, says research shows retention hurts more than it helps.

PATRICIA WRIGHT: What we need to do is provide these tiered intervention systems throughout the year, the extended learning in the summer. And then I think people need to give the students a chance.

MEG BAKER: And she says, think about it from a child's perspective. It could be tough to be with a new set of peers, and--

PATRICIA WRIGHT: We don't want students to feel like they failed in any way.

MEG BAKER: Others voiced opposition because of the potential costs of educating children for an unexpected additional year. In Westfield, New Jersey, Meg Baker, CBS2 News.

MAURICE DUBOIS: And the bill passed a Senate education committee and now needs to be voted on by the full Senate, then the Assembly, before heading to the governor's desk.