Study Commission on Use of Assessments Interim Report Released

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The Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey Interim Report was issued by the New Jersey Department of Education January 23. 

In the interim report, the commission reviewed public perceptions regarding over-testing of students, including the various kinds of assessments being given in classrooms. The body 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.

Weighing In

The Commission is conducting a series of public hearings next week around the state (Study Commission on Use of Assessments Announces Public Hearings).  The commission also has a website to inform the public about the work of the commission and to provide a mechanism for public input and feedback.  They also plan to hold a series of focus groups with students.

About the Commission

Governor Chris Christie named the members of the Commission On Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey in November of last year.  NJPSA Board Member Nicole Moore Samson was named NJPSA’s respresentative to the commission.   The Commission was established as part of EO#159 that not only reduced the weight of testing in teacher and principal evaluations but also established a Commission to examine the use of testing in New Jersey.

The Commission is tasked with presenting recommendations to the Governor regarding the quality and effectiveness of student assessments administered to K-12 students. The body is specifically tasked with ‘considering and making recommendations on the volume, frequency, and impact of student assessments occurring throughout New Jersey school districts, and on the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including the Common Core State Standards.”  The body was to include a “broad range of education practitioners.”  

The group was established after negotiations during the summer that were spurred by Legislative efforts, S-2154 (Van Drew/Gordon) / A-3081/A-990/A-2091 (Jasey/Eustace/Andrzejczak) to delay the use of PARCC in educator educator evaluation.   That legislation would have also established a taskforce, Education Reform Review Task Force, to examine the impact of the implementation of the common core and the new PARCC assessments as well as the impact of these new assessments on students and educators. 

Members Named to the Taskforce Include:

  • Commisioner David C. Hespe, Esq.;
  • Principal of Indian Mills School, Shamong School District Nicole Moore Samson;
  • Camden County College President Raymond A. Yannuzzi, Ph.D.;
  • NJ Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Workforce Development Dana Elizabeth Egreczky;
  • NJ School Board Association Executive Director Lawrence S. Feinsod, Ed.D.;
  • NJPTA Vice President of Advocacy Catherine M. Lindenbaum;
  • Superintendent of Jersey City Public Schools Marcia V. Lyles, Ed.D.;
  • Camden County Vocational District Educator Matthew Stagliano; and
  • Freehold Township Teacher Tracie Yostpille 

The Study Commission was tasked with issuing an initial report containing its recommendations to the Governor no later than December 31, 2014. The Study Commission shall issue a final report to the Governor by July 31, 2015.

The Interim Report