In a victory of brown-nosing over common sense, the N.J. Assembly approved two bills yesterday, A 3307 and A 3079. A 3307, according to the a press release from Assembly Democrats, will “ensure that all parents and guardians of K-12 students are provided timely, clear, and accessible information about the purposes, costs, frequency, and length of the assessments that students will be required to take during the school year, and the rules and policies associated with those assessments.” It passed unanimously.
A 3079, “prohibit[s] the administration of commercially-developed standardized assessments to students in grades K-2.” It passed unanimously.
According to A 3307, no later than October 1st of each school year schools must provide parents and guardians with a list of every single standardized assessment that will be given to students, including areas, grades, dates, time allotted, options of paper and pencil, accommodations, how results will be used, sample questions and answers, and costs. All of this information was always available to parents, although the cost thing is fuzzy: cost of licensing? Cost of technology? Cost of pencils? However, if this bill passes the Senate and Christie doesn’t veto it, schools will shoulder a new administrative burden, even though the only change to testing schedules was the substitution of PARCC for N.J.’s old standardized tests, ASK and HSPA After all, schools have long given all kinds of standardized tests (internal assessments like NWEA and TerraNova, gifted and talented screenings, special education screenings) that have nothing to do with wicked PARCC.
The second bill, prohibiting “commercially-developed” tests to kids grades K-2, is equally silly. Does this prohibition apply to, say, child-friendly reading assessments – commercially-developed and standardized – that, after a block of about five minutes, give teachers important information about whether young children need additional support? Does it apply to standardized assessments that yield information about learning styles? How about assessments of English Language Learners?
Let’s hope the Senate has more sense than the Assembly.