The State Board of Education, at its monthly meeting on Aug. 1, heard a report about the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE’s) plans to modify the state’s assessment program, which involves transitioning away from PARCC and toward more custom state-specific assessments.

The NJDOE will be working with a company called New Meridian, which has been licensed to use the content from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams to assist states in developing their own assessments.

One of the goals of this collaboration will be to develop a shorter assessment for New Jersey students. As part of this effort,  the NJDOE proposesto administer only state English language arts (ELA) 10 and Algebra I assessments for high schools rather than the current six PARCC end-of-course high school assessments in ELA 9, 10, and 11 and Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. This reduction in the number of assessments taken in high school will eliminate the need for students to take state assessments nearly every year in high school while still ensuring students master the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce, job training programs, or higher education.

The change also will ensure the state remains in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which requires states to test in ELA and mathematics at least once in high school. Additionally, the NJDOE will ensure that the menu of options currently open to the class of 2019 remains open to students in the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyond. The NJDOE will not require any student who does not achieve a passing score on the State ELA 10 or Algebra I assessments to sit for repeated administrations of the tests to be eligible for the additional pathways permitted by N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(f). However, the department will continue to administer the State ELA 10 or Algebra I assessments for students who initially do not achieve a passing score and would like additional opportunities to show mastery of the content through State-administered assessments.

Amistad Commission The education commissioner reminded all districts of the responsibility to incorporate information on the African slave trade, slavery in America, the vestiges of slavery in this country, and the contributions of African-Americans. The commissioner plans to highlight these requirements in the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, although no specific proposal has been advanced yet.

Educator Evaluation The commissioner is also convening a steering committee made up of legislators, state board members and department staff to make recommendations on the weight that student assessment will have in educator evaluation for this upcoming school year.  The commissioner will make a determination by Aug. 31.