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Help Decide What Should Replace PARCC

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TRENTON NJ (May 26, 2018)(CNBNewsnet)--The NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) is engaging students, parents, teachers and community members in a series of discussions about what the future of K-12 assessment and high school graduation testing requirements should look like in New Jersey.

NJDOE is holding two types of forums throughout our state:

1.   Community meetings co-hosted by the NJDOE and education organizations such as Save Our Schools NJ, the Garden State Coalition of Schools, and the New Jersey Education Association. Click to sign up for SOSNJ/NJDOE community meetings

2.  Collaboratives hosted by the NJDOE Click to sign up for NJDOE collaboratives

If you can't attend any of the collaboratives or community meetings, you can send written feedback to the NJDOE directly at assessment@doe.nj.gov.


You may find the following questions helpful in preparing for the forums or formulating your feedback to the NJDOE:

1) Which aspects of the PARCC tests need improvement? Are there any aspects that you believe work well?  

Be as specific as possible and include your children's or students' personal experiences with PARCC.  

You may want to address the following:

  • Is PARCC too hard or too easy?
  • How does PARCC impact instruction time, curriculum, and teaching approaches?  
  • How much time is being spent on test preparation vs instruction?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of testing on a computer vs. paper and pencil?
  • How is testing impacting students' stress levels and their feelings about school?

2) What kind of an assessment should replace PARCC?

Federal law (ESSA) requires annual testing in English Language Arts and Math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school grades 9-12. The tests used must align with state standards and must be consistent, to enable comparisons across the state. The test modality (paper and pencil or computerized) and duration (several hours or multiple days) are up to each state to decide.  

You may want to address the following:  

  • Should the test that replaces PARCC be similar to PARCC, such as the Smarter Balanced tests or the hybrid PARCC tests that are being used in Massachusetts and Louisiana?
  • For students in grades 3 to 8, should New Jersey purchase an “off-the-shelf” test such as the Terra Nova for grades 3-8 and the Iowa Assessment for grades 3-8, or should New Jersey create its own assessment? Creating an assessment generally requires multiple years of test development, field testing, and standard setting and would likely mean continuing to use an alternative assessment such as the Iowa or PARCC in the interim.
  • How long should the replacement test be? Should it be administered over several hours or multiple days, as is the case with PARCC?
  • Should the test that replaces PARCC be given via paper and pencil, or should it be given online, as PARCC has been administered?  
  • For high school students, should the SAT or the ACT replace PARCC for federal accountability purposes?
  • Should New Jersey join states like New Hampshire, which are working to replace standardized tests with performance-based assessments that enable students to demonstrate mastery of material through applications of their knowledge? The federal law provides an option to replace standardized testing with performance-based assessments. Doing so would require New Jersey to adopt an interim assessment such as the Iowa or Terra Nova for 5 to 7 years, while the performance-based assessments are developed and validated.

3) What, if any, high school graduation testing requirements should New Jersey require?  

New Jersey is one of only 13 states that still require a high school exit test. Multiple studies have confirmed that such exit tests do not improve students’ academic performance and have substantial negative consequences.

New Jersey state law requires that students pass a basic-skills test in 11th grade in order to graduate from high school. In August 2016, the State Board of Education adopted new regulations put forth by the Christie Administration that require students in the class of 2020 and beyond to take PARCC exams in order to graduate and students in the class of 2021 and beyond to receive a 4 or higher on the 10th grade English Language Arts and Algebra 1 PARCC exams in order to graduate.  

These regulations would hurt many students and threaten New Jersey’s graduation rate. They also violate New Jersey’s state law and have been challenged in court by the Education Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of NJ.    

During last fall’s campaign, Governor Murphy promised to get rid of the PARCC graduation requirements. However, Governor Murphy needs the NJ legislature’s cooperation in order to eliminate the underlying law requiring high school exit testing.