Federal and State Requirements Regarding Statewide Assessment
Below is information from the Department of Education regarding the Federal and State requirements to administer the PARCC assessment. This information was distributed to all school districts in September of 2015 from the Former Commissioner of Education, David C. Hespe.
Federal Requirements Regarding Statewide Assessment
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires schools with students in grades three through twelve to demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In order to make AYP, a school must ensure that assessments have been taken by at least ninety-five percent (95%) of enrolled students in each subgroup. Federal funding of key education programs is dependent upon districts meeting this requirement.
State Requirements Regarding Statewide Assessment
In compliance with the federal requirement to administer a statewide assessment program, State law requires, at N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-1, the Commissioner of Education (Commissioner), with approval of the State Board of Education (State Board), to establish a program of standards for graduation from secondary school, and such a program shall include, “[t]he development of a Statewide assessment test in reading, writing, and computational skills to be administered to all secondary school pupils...” In addition, N.J.A.C. 6A:8-4.1(a) and (b) provides, “[t]he Commissioner...may implement assessment of student achievement in the State’s public schools in any grade(s) and by such assessments as he or she deems appropriate,” and the Commissioner “...shall define the scope and level of student performance on Statewide assessments that demonstrate thorough understanding of the knowledge and skills delineated by the [state standards] at grade levels three through 12.” Subsection (c) further states that district boards of education “shall, according to a schedule prescribed by the Commissioner, administer the applicable Statewide assessments,” and subsection (d) confirms that “all students at grade levels three through 12, and at any other grade(s) designated by the Commissioner...shall take appropriate Statewide assessments as scheduled.”
Furthermore, in February 2014, the State Board passed a resolution confirming that district boards of education are obligated to implement the Core Curriculum Content Standards and to “ensure students meet the expectations and proficiency standards as measured by current and future State and local assessments.”
In Sum, State law and regulations require all students to take State assessments. It is important to note that, although we have provided alternative ways for students to demonstrate the statewide assessment competencies required under State law for demonstrating proficiency for graduation during the transition to a new standardized test, students are still expected to participate in the statewide assessment program.
High School Graduation Assessment Requirements - Updated January 2017
On August 3, 2016, the State Board of Education approved updated state regulations for the high school graduation assessments requirements in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics for the Classes of 2016 through 2021, and beyond. These new state regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1) became effective on September 6, 2016.
The Classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019 – Students graduating as members of the Classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019 can meet graduation assessment requirements through any of these three pathways:
(1) Achieving passing scores on high-level PARCC assessments;
(2) Achieving certain scores on alternative assessments such as the SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer; or
(3) The submission by the district of a student portfolio through the Department’s portfolio appeals process. (Special Education students whose Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) specify an alternative way to demonstrate proficiencies will continue to follow the graduation requirements set forth in their IEPs.)
The Class of 2020 – Students in the Class of 2020 can demonstrate graduation assessment proficiency through the same three pathways as those in the Classes of 2017 through 2019, provided that students in the Class of 2020 take all PARCC assessments associated with the high-school level courses for which they were eligible* and receive valid scores, as of the September 6, 2016 effective date of the amendments were adopted by the State Board of Education.
The Class of 2021 and Beyond – Starting with the Class of 2021, students will only have two pathways to meet the high school graduation assessments requirements:
(1) Pass the ELA 10 and Algebra 1 assessments; or
(2) The submission by the district of a student portfolio through the Department’s portfolio appeals process, assuming the student has taken all PARCC assessments associated with the high-school level courses for which they were eligible* and receives valid scores.
Each school year the NJDOE will determine the proficiency level needed on the assessments to meet the requirements.
It is important to note that our students have always been able to meet graduation requirements through an alternative assessment or pathway to graduation throughout New Jersey’s forty-year history with a statewide assessment program, and will continue to be able to do so.
Note: * “Eligible” is defined as a student who is enrolled in a high-school level course for which there is a PARCC test and receives a valid score. This includes all of these courses: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, ELA 9, ELA 10, and ELA 11.