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1-23-15 Released Today - Interim Report by Study Commission on Student Assessments

NJ Department of Education - Christie Administration Announces Interim Report of Study Commission on Student Assessments


For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Yaple
 Rich Vespucci

Date:  January 23, 2015

609-292-1126 609-292-1126




Trenton, NJ – The Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey, which is studying issues and concerns about testing in public schools, has issued its interim report, the Department of Education announced today.

The nine-member Study Commission, created by Executive Order No. 159, is charged with reviewing and providing recommendations about the volume, frequency and impact of student assessments occurring throughout New Jersey school districts, including those administered for college admission, college credit, and college pathways. The Study Commission is also examining possible recommendations regarding the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including the Common Core State Standards, and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) assessments, which will be part of the final report due to the Governor.

In its interim report, the commission reviewed public perceptions regarding over-testing of students, including the various kinds of assessments being given in classrooms. The commission focused on efficiencies in overall testing in terms of both quality and quantity. The commission found that individual schools and classrooms have, over time, developed a number of different tests with different purposes that, if not constantly reviewed for redundancy or quality, may be problematic in terms of limiting instructional time or detracting from the student experience. 

Some of the recommendations of the Study Commission's interim report include:

  • Each district should review the universe of tests and quizzes being given in classrooms, with the goal of developing a coordinated integrated assessment structure and schedule. Parents should be engaged in the process, and notified annually of the assessments their child will take.
  • The state should lead efforts to review the universe of testing, and also review the federal and state-required tests (PARCC, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, etc.) to ensure they are coordinated with other tests and capable of integration into instruction. The state should also make greater efforts to communicate with the public regarding its own vision for educational improvement and how student assessments should be used to accomplish that vision. 
  • The New Jersey Department of Education should conduct a study to learn more about assessment practices of local districts and schools, including the impact on instructional and student learning time.

The commission has developed a number of initiatives to engage the public in its work, including a user-friendly website to inform the public about the work of the commission and to provide a mechanism for public input and feedback; scheduling three regional public testimony sessions for Jan. 27, 28 and 29; and holding a series of focus groups with students.


News Transcript - Freehold Regional superintendent ‘confident’ about PARCC testing


Staff Writer

Freehold Regional High School District Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson said district administrators have taken a number of precautions to be prepared for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing that will occur from March through June.

At a recent Board of Education meeting, Sampson said the district has arranged the PARCC schedule so that classes taking the test will not interfere with classes that are not taking the test.

 “We have created schedules in each of our six high schools that will allow us to continue to run the regular instructional day while we test the students who are designated for testing — so the minimum distraction possible,” he said.

Sampson’s declaration of confidence comes a year after 800 students in the district piloted the PARCC exam, which he labeled a “terrible” experience at the time. A glitch on the part of Pearson Education, the company that directs PARCC, quickly cut short the exam due to a networking error.

Since then, Sampson said, the district has been able to straighten out all the problems that occurred during the pilot testing.

“There has been a lot of work that has gone into that over the past several months,” he said. “We have teams with assigned leaders in each of our schools that have come together regularly to map out those [testing] schedules, to seek the best ways possible to minimize overall interruption to other students’ day and the instructional day [of students] who are not being tested. I feel confident we are going to move through with year one of this new platform as well as any other school district in the state.”

Like many other districts in the state, the Freehold Regional High School District removed midterm exams at the beginning of the school year.

“We did, as many school districts in the state have done … move off of a midterm schedule, thinking we have quite enough testing in the school system with the PARCC,” Sampson said.

The superintendent also said administrators have decided it is best for students to take the PARCC via desktop computers, rather than Chromebook computers or iPads.

“We don’t have specific data yet [as to whether] any devices enable students to perform better or worse, so, absent that, we have felt strongly that we were not going to move forward with Chromebooks or iPads or any other device, other than a desktop, that we know a student is fully familiar with and fully understands, until we have some more specific data,” Sampson said.

Contact Jeremy Grossman at jgrossman@gmnews.com.



Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608