New Jersey Announces First Steps Away From PARCC

The New Jersey Department of Education announced the first steps to transition away from using PARCC as the state’s annual assessment required under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Governor Phil Murphey (D-NJ) said in January that it was time for the state to get rid of PARCC.

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) held a two-month, 21-county tour to collect recommendations from a reported 2,300 students, teachers, school administrators, education advocates, and community leaders.

(Parents?)

“Because of a focused, concentrated effort to reach out to New Jersey residents and to give them a voice at the table, we are on a clear path away from PARCC,” Murphy said in a released statement. “By making the transition in phases, we can ensure a smooth implementation in schools across the state and maintain compliance with current state and federal requirements.”

“A stronger, fairer New Jersey means one that prioritizes outreach and collaboration when making policy decisions,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet in a statement for the NJDOE press release. “My staff and I went on a listening tour across the state to ensure that we understood the scope of interest, and we moved forward having considered the needs of students, educators, and broader community members in building the next generation assessment system by New Jersey, for New Jersey.”

NJDOE says the transition will occur over multiple stages, and PARCC will not be fully replaced until the 2020-2021 school year.

NJDOE, upon New Jersey State Board approval, plans to reduce the number of required tests for graduation from high school from six to two. They also plan to provide flexibility for first-year English learners on the English language proficiency test. They also plan to ensure that educators and parents receive test data in a timely manner. Currently, that data is not provided until after the school year ends.

They also plan to immediately reduce the length of testing for all grades by 25 percent and reduce the weight of the assessment on teacher evaluations.

Parental opt-outs were not addressed.

You can read the report and draft regulations. NJDOE says they will start the second phase of assessment outreach this summer that will continue through the 2018-2019 school year that will focus on the “more complicated questions and issues” addressed during their tour.

New Jersey Seeks Input for New Assessment

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has said that it is time for the Garden State to get rid of PARCC. To that end, the New Jersey Department of Education announced last week they will solicit public input in May to “inform” the next statewide assessment.

“We will be visiting communities throughout the state so we can hear recommendations from parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and other key stakeholders,” New Jersey Acting Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet said. “We invite New Jerseyans to share their insights in-person and online, so we may establish priorities for change moving forward.”

The department said stakeholder input will play an integral role in the NJDOE’s short- and long-term plans for, and improvements to, the statewide assessment program. The NJDOE is particularly interested in perspectives on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which is the current statewide assessment for math and English language arts/literacy. Specifically, they said public input is needed to determine what elements of the statewide assessment program work well, and what areas need improvement.

They announced that the Department has a process of securing contractual partners that are able to meet the design needs informed by the stakeholder feedback gathered over the coming months.

They also said the new assessment has to conform to legal requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act. “Federal law requires all states to assess students in grades 3 through 8, and again in high school. As our assessment system continues to evolve and improve, we must adhere to these laws, implement change in an innovative, deliberative and cost-effective way, and build on the high standards we have for all New Jersey students,” Repollet said.

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on New Jersey’s assessments through multiple options, including:

  • Submit interest by May 8 to join a Statewide Assessment Collaborative by following this link.
  • Watch an online recorded webinar and complete a feedback questionnaire (details will be forthcoming on the NJDOE Assessments webpage).
  • Contact assessment@doe.nj.gov with comments or questions regarding the statewide assessment program. Specific recommendations to enhance the current program or support for elements of the current program are encouraged.

In addition, the Department announced they will partner with schools and other stakeholder organizations to take part in roundtable discussions and will also reach out to statewide education associations representing school superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members, and parents.

The Department said that feedback and recommendations generated by the first phase of outreach will be collected through June. They also asserted that all input will be considered as they plan for the future of statewide assessments in New Jersey and make initial enhancements to the statewide assessment program in the 2018-19 school year.

“New Jersey’s statewide assessments have been a constantly evolving process ever since they were first instituted in the 1970s,” Repollet added. “With that in mind, we will continue to receive feedback and recommendations, and expect to be able to make additional improvements in coming years.”

A couple of things to note with this announcement last week. First, since the assessment has to be aligned with the state’s academic standards the assessment will still be Common Core-aligned. Second, it appears that the state will at first tweak PARCC so I’m not sure there will be much of a change. Also, they could do what Massachusetts has done and offer some sort of PARCC-hybrid assessment.

I’m not optimistic that the assessment landscape in New Jersey will be significantly changed.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy: Time to Get Rid of PARCC

Governor-Elect Phil Murphy (D-NJ) announced Dr. Lamont Repollet’s appointment as New Jersey’s new Commissioner of Education

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who was sworn in today, announced last week as Governor-Elect that it is time for the Garden State to get rid of PARCC as their state-wide assessment.  Philadelphia public radio station WHYY reports:

At an elementary school in Asbury Park where he announced that Asbury Park School District Superintendent Lamont Repollet will lead the state education department, Murphy said it’s time to scrap those tests.

“We are asking Dr. Repollet to end the failed experiment that has been PARCC testing and create new, more effective and less class time-intrusive means for measuring student assessment,” Murphy said.

Murphy said shorter tests should be developed with teacher input.

He doesn’t have a firm timeline NJ.com reports:

“The answer to the logistics of how it’s done, honestly, I don’t know,” the Democrat said after an unrelated event in Ewing the day before he’s set to be sworn in. “So bear with me on that. But soon.”

He added.

“The notion of assessing kids to make sure we understand how they’re doing, I’m all in for that,” Murphy said Monday. “But these big, white-knuckle, once-a-year, with lots of weeks getting folks tuned up to take a particular test I’m not a fan of. Never have been.”

He noted not only that he has four children but that one of his sisters is a retired teacher from Boston who is against the tests.

“We’re into shorter feedback loops,” Murphy said. “You take the test on Monday and you find out how you did on Friday or the next Monday or something like that.”

“I think educators should be first and foremost at the table to figure out what the actual best model is,” he added.

PARCC’s membership has dwindled to Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. When New Jersey officially leaves only six five states and the District of Columbia will remain in a consortium that once boasted 25 states and DC.

(Update: I was reminded that Colorado left PARCC. They do still purchase some PARCC test items. Louisiana also does a PARCC hybrid. Massachusettes also offers a hybrid assessment. So that really just leaves three states and D.C who use it exclusively.)