State to Increase Standardized Student Testing in 2014-15
Some critics says students are already tested too often and it adds stress surrounding those tests.
State officials announced last week that beginning in the 2014-15 school year, students in New Jersey schools will spend roughly three more hours per year undergoing annual tests than current testing requires, according to a published report.
The new online tests, officials said, will help teachers better understand students’ needs, a Wednesday NorthJersey.com report said.However not all educators and parents are convinced of the effectiveness of the test, saying the new tests will drain more instructional time and increase pressure to “teach to the test,” especially at a time when teachers’ evaluations will be linked in part to their students’ progress on tests, the report said.
A 22-state, federally funded consortium known as the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is developing the new tests for math and language arts. The tests are supposed to reflect what students must learn by each grade according to a new set of voluntary national standards called the Common Core. These standards, put in place this year, aim to be more coherent, clear and rigorous than many states had before.
Some district officials have questioned whether the tests would dominate their schools’ computers during test days. The state is now surveying districts to see if they expect to have enough computers and bandwidth. The consortium recommends that a school with 100 students in its largest grade have at least 50 devices: half the students could take the test in the morning, half in the afternoon.
Another issue plaguing districts is the cost of the new tests. Currently, a federal grant is paying for the test development, but paying for future costs of the test in New Jersey are unclear.