The New Jersey Department of Education announced on Aug. 31 that the weight of PARCC tests in annual teacher evaluations will be reduced from 30 percent to 5 percent for the new school year.

The change will affect English teachers from fourth through eighth grades, and math teachers from the fourth through seventh grades. The reduction fulfills a campaign promise by Gov. Phil Murphy to diminish the importance of PARCC tests, which were created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. For teachers who don’t teach subjects with state tests, evaluations will not change.

The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) supports a fair and consistent evaluation process, based on student achievement and sound teaching practices. In the past, NJSBA advocated for continuation of the TEACHNJ requirement to factor standardized test results into teacher evaluations at least until there was an opportunity to determine its impact on the evaluation process.

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) proclaimed the change to be a “win” for teachers, but some legislative leaders expressed reservations.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senate Education Chair Teresa Ruiz issued a joint statement, calling the move a “victory for special interests” and a “huge step backward” for public education. Assembly Education Chair Pamela Lampitt said that by reducing the PARCC score to 5 percent of an educator’s overall evaluation, “we lose the ability to set strong statewide evaluation standards for teachers.”