New standarized test for students

Partnership for Assesment of Readiness for College and Careers administered this year

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Revisiting state standards

Under Governor Chris Christie, the state is currently undergoing a review of its standardized testing, which applies to all public and charter schools. Both must conform to Common Core Standards.
Private, religious and home-schools are exempt from Common Core, though they are still affected, since there is much public debate over the issue of the Common Core. Some home-school programs, for example, have changed to align to Common Core Standards, while some states and districts have taken bits and pieces of the Common Core to apply them.
Another matter of public debate over the PARCC test is that is it given via a computer, thus there has been some criticism among educators that some school systems cannot properly implement the test for lack of required technology.
The debate over the Common Core, standardized tests and other topics involved in education are sure to rage on as the United States seeks to compete in education with other countries.

By Jessica Lopez

— Kindergarten through 12th grade students at Kittatiny Regional High School will begin taking a new standardized test in the 2014-2015 school year known as PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The test replaces New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK), which the state has administered since 2003, and was given to grades three through eight for language arts, mathematics and science. Eleventh graders were given the High School Proficiency Assessment, or HSPA.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be assessed in mathematics, english, language arts and literacy through PARCC.

The test is geared to help students develop skills that will prepare them for both careers and college.

PARCC is a Common Core Standards- aligned test that about half of the 50 states have signed up for, including Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

National stat for New Jersey
Overall, it is difficult to compare the education a student receives in one state against another, because states often use different test systems. The National Education, for example, does not compile statistics comparing the testing performance of students from individual states, but rather, provides data such as expenditures, student populations and teacher salaries.

But overall, New Jersey consistently ranks as one of the best states for education; Education Week ranks New Jersey (88.2) second only to Massachusetts (91.4) in its 2014 States Report Card.

New Jersey also spends a lot to educate its students. States with the highest per student expenditures were Vermont ($19,752), New York ($19,523), New Jersey ($19,291), Alaska ($18,192) and Rhode Island ($17,666).

States with the lowest per student expenditures were Arizona ($6,949), Utah ($7,223), Oklahoma ($7,912), Indiana ($8,064) and Texas ($8,275), according to the NEA’s Association’s Rankings of the States 2013 and Estimates of School Statistics 2014.

Teacher evaluations changing

How some teachers are evaluated will be changing statewide, since some teacher evaluations depend on students’ performance, Kittatinny Superintendent Craig Hutcheson informed the board of education at their latest meeting.

“The Governor's Executive Order is slowing down the use of PARCC for teacher evaluations. The state is tempering back the percentages for evaluations using the new test,” said Hutcheson, summarizing what easily becomes a confusing topic.

Teachers in grades four through eight, math and language are currently evaluated on a value system of one to 100, decided by student growth percentiles, student growth objectives and teacher observation.

With the implementation of the new PARCC testing, the percent of teacher scoring decided by percentiles will increase as the state places more weight on student performance over the next two years, and less on the in-class evaluations of teachers by their supervisors.

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