BREAKING NEWS:  New Jersey Legislature Passes Arts Grade Weighting Bill

Last night, 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 passage last evening 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.

b. 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:

Assembly Sponsors

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

Senate Sponsors

M. 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.

Bob Morrison
New Jersey Arts Education Partnership

About the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership
The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey.  NJAEP was originally founded in 2007 as a cosponsored program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Prudential Foundation, and ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of the NJAEP is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society.

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