The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released several memos recently that pertain to the PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing.

Graduation Requirements for the Class of 2019

In a memo dated Sept. 9, the NJDOE extended to the class of 2019 – this year’s incoming high school freshmen – the same testing graduation requirements that the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 must meet.

Those students can meet the requirement by achieving a passing score on the PARCC testing, or can meet it by scoring 400 or higher on the SAT reading and the SAT math tests, by scoring a 16 or higher on the ACT math and reading tests, or by demonstrating graduation readiness with other college entrance exams. Special education students will continue to follow the graduation requirements set forth in their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

NJDOE noted that the Study Commission on the Use of Statewide Assessments will be making recommendations shortly regarding graduation requirements for the class of 2020 and thereafter.

Exemptions from Grade 11 English Language Arts Test

 NJDOE announced in a separate Sept. 9 memo that school districts may exempt students from taking the PARCC English Language Arts Grade 11 exam if they have participated in another validated assessment program designed to be used nationally by colleges and universities for placement. Examples of such exams include Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition; AP English Literature and Composition, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) English exams.  To be eligible for the exemption, students must take the assessments during their 11th grade school year.

District Guidance on Administering PARCC Tests

   In an NJDOE memo on student participation in the statewide assessment program, David Hespe, NJ commissioner of education, outlined the federal and state requirements regarding assessments, and said that state law and regulations require students to participate in the statewide testing.  However, the memo noted, “school districts should be prepared in the event that students choose not to participate in the assessment program and adopt policies and procedures for the appropriate supervision and engagement of these students during the administration of the assessment.”

Specific policies are entirely within the school district’s discretion, the memo pointed out. But districts should “be mindful of ensuring appropriate student supervision and creating alternative options for student activity during the test period, so long as the testing environment is not disrupted and, in this regard, a sit-and-stare policy should be avoided.”  As an example, the department said that students may be allowed to read in the testing environment, provided they are not logged into the test platform, or using reading material that is germane to the test being administered; i.e, reading a math textbook during the math assessment.

In the memo, the commissioner directed school administrators to a document developed by NJSBA’s legal department, “Your Local School Board, Your Students and PARCC: Frequently Asked Questions.”