New Jersey students registered increases both in participation and test scores this spring, in the second year of administration of the PARCC assessments in mathematics and Language Arts.

An additional 56,000 students took the math exam this spring, and 60,000 more students took the English exam than did in 2015, when uncertainty about the tests and a strong “opt-out” movement led some families to have their children sit out the exams.

“NJSBA is pleased to learn that the scores on the 2016 PARCC examinations show that a larger percentage of students are meeting the high expectations we have for students in New Jersey,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “Local boards of education will continue to work with their administrative teams and their teachers to use the data to improve instruction, refine curriculum and provide the professional development that is needed to improve student achievement – a task made easier by the release of the results in advance of the 2016-2017 school year.”

State Board Action One day after Gov. Chris Christie announced the score results at a press conference, touting them as “positive gains,” the State Board of Education met and approved graduation requirements tied to the PARCC testing. Beginning in 2021, students will need to pass the PARCC tests for Algebra 1 and 10th grade language arts in order to graduate from high school. They are also required to take all PARCC assessments for which they are eligible.

Students graduating in 2016 through 2019, will be able to satisfy the requirement to demonstrate proficiency in English language arts and mathematics through a means other than the PARCC assessment, including achieving a passing score on a substitute test or meeting the criteria of the NJDOE’s portfolio appeal process. Students graduating in the class of 2020 will be permitted to demonstrate graduation proficiency through the same alternative means as those in the classes of 2016 through 2019, provided those students take all end-of-course PARCC assessments for which they are eligible as of the effective date of the proposed amendments.

New Jersey Commissioner of Education David Hespe said there will be a portfolio appeals process available for students who do not achieve a passing score on the PARCC. That addresses a concern that NJSBA members expressed through a resolution passed at the May 2016 Delegate Assembly. The resolution, in part, stated “The NJSBA believes the state should provide alternative methods of achieving state and federal requirements for graduation, not based only on standardized tests, such as the Alternate High School Assessment or portfolio assessment.”

Hespe also said the use of PARCC is just the latest in a series of exit exams required for students to receive a diploma in New Jersey, according to published reports.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments were introduced in New Jersey and a group of other states in spring 2015, as part of a move toward increased accountability in schools.

For further information, and for a full breakdown of score results, please visit the state website at http://nj.gov/governor/news/news/552016/pdf/20160802a.pdf

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