With the successful reinstatement of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments in the spring of 2022, the New Jersey Department of Education will discontinue the Start Strong assessment effective fall 2023, according to an advisory.

The Start Strong assessment was piloted in the fall of 2020, and its administration has continued since then. In the fall of 2021, the assessment was mandated to ensure that districts had access to high-quality, standards-based student data through the suspension of the NJSLA.

In August 2022, the New Jersey School Boards Association joined eight other organizations dedicated to promoting student achievement in calling for the NJDOE to rethink its approach to the Start Strong assessment, noting in a letter addressed to Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, the acting commissioner of education, that the assessment should be made optional for districts with local assessment tools that yield relevant and timely data. The letter added that if the NJDOE proceeded with mandatory administration, it should extend the testing window by several weeks.

In response to that letter, the NJDOE extended the end of the testing window of the fall 2022 Start Strong assessment by three weeks, with McMillan acknowledging that the early part of the school year is “critical for building the necessary foundations between educators and students and the importance of establishing social emotional learning practices.”

Discontinuation of Start Strong

The Department’s Office of Assessments initially offered the Start Strong assessments during the fall of 2020 as a tool to provide educators with an early indication of the level of support students may need at the beginning of the school year. This program was initiated in response to the suspension of the NJSLA and provided high-quality, timely data to assist schools and districts in their decision-making process. The Start Strong program was then continued in the fall of 2022, providing districts with data that would serve as a comparison point to their students’ performance in the prior year and help evaluate progress in preparing students for the school year during the two-year pause of administration of the NJSLA.

The resumption of the NJSLA will allow the NJDOE to continue to offer a high-quality assessment to determine the academic needs of New Jersey’s students to engage in grade-level content as Start Strong comes to an end.

The NJDOE will be reallocating the funds of the Start Strong program, which will enable the funding for the 2023-2024 school year to support other initiatives within the New Jersey Partnership for Student Success.

Dynamic Learning Maps Instructionally Embedded Assessments

The NJDOE will offer the DLM IE assessments as an optional resource for the fall of 2023.

If you have any questions, contact the Office of Assessments at 609-376-3960 or via email.