Bills to Require Reporting of PARCC Test Participation, Prohibit Withholding of State Aid
TRENTON – Two bills sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to address issues related to the new standardized tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) were approved today by the Senate Education Committee.
The first bill, S2844, would require school districts across the state to publicly disclose information regarding student participation in PARCC tests. The second bill, S2881, would prohibit the withholding of state aid based on student the participation rate on the state assessments.
“The PARCC tests have sparked many questions and concerns among parents, teachers and students who have reported numerous challenges with the rollout of the new exams. These issues must be examined and addressed in a responsible way at the state level,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “These bills will ensure there is transparency in the process so we can adequately assess how the tests are faring in our schools, but they will also protect against repercussions that unfairly punish districts already operating under tight budgets.”
S-2844 is intended to create transparency in the overall participation of students in the newly developed PARCC tests, which are being conducted in New Jersey schools for the first time this school year. The bill requires school districts, within 10 days of the completion of the exam to any grade level, to post on their websites information regarding student participation in the assessments. Upon request, a district would have to make publicly available information regarding the number of students in each grade level who participated and did not participate in the tests, and to include the subject area of the assessment, grade levels covered and the date or dates on which the test was administered. The state Department of Education would also be required to post the cumulative opt-out numbers within a reasonable timeframe on the state’s website.
S-2881 prohibits the Commissioner of Education from withholding State school aid from a school district based on the participation rate of its students on the State assessments. Recent media articles indicate that the commissioner has suggested the possibility of withholding State aid if a significant share of students in a district do not take an assessment. This bill would prevent districts from being penalized for matters beyond their control.
“These bills provide guidelines for reporting on PARCC assessments that will allow us to get a handle on just what is taking place in our schools. At the same time, they will protect districts that are trying their best to work within the parameters they’ve been given and to conduct a test under very challenging circumstances,” said Senator Gill. “This will allow us to ensure schools are not negatively impacted by the response to the tests and can continue working as we address some of the issues that have developed during the implementation.”
The bills were approved by a vote of 5-0.