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Bill to Restrict Use of Standardized Testing for Young Students in NJ Schools Heads to Governor’s Desk

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Patrick Diegnan, Charles Mainor, Benjie Wimberly and Sheila Oliver to prohibit the administration of commercially-developed standardized assessments to students in grades K-2 received final legislative approval on Thursday and now heads to the Governor’s desk. The bill was approved 74-0 by the Assembly and 40-0 by the Senate on June 25.

“The pressure put on students and teachers by these assessments is counterproductive to learning,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), who sits on the Assembly Education Committee. “There are already state and federally mandated tests that our students are required to take. There is no need to overburden students with yet another test, which takes time away from actual classroom instruction.”

“These students are just starting their formal education,” said Diegnan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. “While it is important to prepare these young students for the next grade, this can be done, probably more effectively, through creative teaching methods in the classroom that get kids excited about learning, instead of giving them yet another, multiple-choice test.”

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The bill (A-3079) would prohibit a school district from administering a commercially-developed standardized assessment that is not required by state or federal law to students enrolled in Kindergarten through the second grade. The bill defines a “commercially-developed standardized assessment” as a test that requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from a common bank of questions, in the same manner, and is developed and scored by an entity under a contract with a board of education. The bill would not preclude a classroom teacher or a board of education from developing, administering, and scoring a test in grades K-2.

A commercially-developed standardized assessment shall not include diagnostic and formative assessments used by teaching staff members to identify particular student learning needs or the need for special services, or to modify instructional strategies to improve individual student learning.

“I understand the importance of testing to ensure that students are learning, but I don’t see the educational value in having students take more tests than what is already required, especially when the time spent preparing for a test can be better spent in actual instruction,” said Mainor (D-Hudson).

“We have to make sure that students are indeed absorbing the classroom lessons and tests are one way to do that. But administering multiple tests seems excessive, especially when there is so much concern about the effectiveness of standardized tests,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic).

“Kids learn and test differently,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Instead of tailoring curriculum around these standardized tests and using valuable class time to prepare students for these tests, schools should be focusing on how to best reach these young learners so they can all achieve academic success.”

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