On July 10, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the New Jersey Department of Education would propose draft regulations and other changes concerning standardized testing of the state’s public school students.  The intent, said Murphy, was to transition the state away from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing in phases, to ensure a smooth implementation and to maintain compliance with current state and federal requirements.

NJSBA responded positively to the proposal.

The changes would reduce the number of required tests in high school from six to two; ensure that educators and parents receive test data in a timely manner; and provide flexibility for first-year English learners on the English language proficiency test. They will be reviewed by the State Board of Education, which will receive draft regulations incorporating many of  the changes on July 11.

The governor also announced additional changes that would not require State Board approval, including decreasing the length of testing for all grades by approximately 25 percent, and reducing the weight of the assessment on teacher evaluations.

Reduction in Testing The NJDOE proposes to administer only state English language arts (ELA) 10 and Algebra I assessments in high school, rather than the current six PARCC end-of-course assessments in ELA 9, 10, and 11 and Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.

This reduction in testing would eliminate the need for students to take state assessments nearly every year in high school.  The change would also ensure that New Jersey remains in compliance with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires states to test in ELA and mathematics at least once in high school.

Additionally, the NJDOE will ensure that the menu of testing options currently open to the class of 2019 remain available to students in the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyond. NJSBA encourages the state to provide flexibility to school districts in selecting assessments to measure student progress toward New Jersey’s Student Learning Standards.

The full text of the draft regulations is available here.

NJSBA Comments on Plan Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod praised the direction of the proposal and commended the NJDOE for seeking input from parents and other education stakeholders.

“Many of the proposed changes to the state’s assessment program are consistent with New Jersey School Boards Association policy,” he explained.

“The proposal responds to concerns about lengthy test administration and the potentially negative impact on instruction,” said Feinsod. “It also addresses the timely release of test data for use by educators. This information can enable educators to target instruction to each student’s learning needs.”

“NJSBA recognizes the need to assess student progress toward state learning standards,” he continued. “We also believe that local school boards, working with their superintendents, should have latitude in how they determine student progress. By cutting back on required testing, the proposal would increase local flexibility.”

NJSBA will continue to review the proposed regulations as they move through the State Board’s code adoption process.

Listening Tour The recommended changes come after extensive public outreach to encourage parents, education stakeholders and citizens to provide feedback to the New Jersey Department of Education. The NJDOE toured all 21 New Jersey counties and held 75 in-person sessions, as well as three webinars, to gather information.  The department issued an Assessment Outreach Report, which summarizes the feedback received, and describes short- and long-term changes to advance a transition to the next generation assessment.

Beginning this summer, and throughout the 2018-2019 school year, the NJDOE will be conducting the second phase of assessment outreach.