NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The PARCC testing is on its way out. The Board of Education (BOE) discussed the future of the state testing requirements as well as its PARCC remediation program at its Thursday, July 26 meeting. The board also heard the anti-bullying self-assessment report for the 2017-2018 school year.

Jay Richter, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision told the board about the Algebra 1 remediation program. The new two week program was designed for students who did not pass the Algebra 1 PARCC test. A total of 21 students attended the program which took place from 9 to 11:30 a,m, each day. The students used an online program, but were also given a small group instruction. The program prepared students to retake the PARCC Algebra 1 next week. A similar program will be offered for students in the fall in preparation of the November PARCC Algebra 1 retest.

Richter also told the board that the state plans to phase out the current PARCC testing and replace it with a new testing schedule designed for New Jersey students only. The Commissioner of Education has been touring the state over the last few months in order to receive feedback regarding student testing. The commissioner made some recommendations for the future assessments in the state on July 12, Richter explained.

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“First recommendation is that the state will begin to transition away from the PARCC to a new system, built just for New Jersey students,” Richter said. The commissioner also recommended that the testing time will be reduced by 25 percent in all grade levels. This year students were tested approximately eight hours, but the testing time will be reduced to six hours going forward. The state is also revising its graduation requirements.  Instead of students taking six tests in high school, students are required to take only two tests, which are English Language Arts 10 and Algebra 1 assessments. The recommendation is that it would still be a graduation requirement to pass these two tests. Students will be offered multiple opportunities to pass these two required tests, Richter said.

There is also a proposal that students be offered other pathways to meet the graduation requirements if they fail to pass the required PARCC tests. The science tests will remain the same as in the past. They are administered for students at 5th, 8th and 11th grade levels, Richter explained.

It is very unfortunate that our student assessment is now like “a football,” Board President Adam Smith said. This is probably the first year when the PARCC assessment test results yielded useful data on student progress. Now we are going to a different testing schedule and it will take a few years before the new tests provide valuable information in terms of students’ academic performance, he lamented.

Superintendent David Miceli noted that the district is also using its own internal assessment methods to evaluate students’ aptitude.

Scott Hough, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, provided the report of the district’s anti-bullying self-assessment as required by the Department of Education. The safety teams in each school completed the self-assessment for 2017-2018 school year. The assessment contains eight core elements that evaluate the district’s HIB policy, programs, training, investigation procedures and reporting practices. The minimum self-assessment score is 52, while the highest possible score is 78. The district self-assessment scores for the 2017-2018 school year are: high school - 70, middle school - 72, Salt Brook School - 74 and Allen W. Robert School - 74. The average district score is 72, and all district schools have met the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, Hough reported.

Additionally, Miceli explained that the first grade reading assessment was completed at the end of June, instead of September, as recommended by the reading specialists. The assessment helped the district to evaluate the students prior to the start of the next school year, so that any areas of weakness can be addressed as soon as the school starts. This also provided students an opportunity to improve their reading skills during the summer months, he said.

Miceli also reported that the district expects to have resource officers appointed to all three school building prior to the start of the school year.