Measures restricting use of standardized tests advance in NJ

New Jersey lawmakers want to apply some restrictions on the new standardized Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests that are set to start next month for public school students in third through 11th grade.

Parents who packed an Assembly committee meeting Thursday questioned the need for the test and how the results would be used.

Highland Park resident Darcie Cimarusti was one of those who said she will refuse to allow her children take the tests designed to assess whether students are on track for success in college and career.

One of her twin third-grade daughters is dyslexic, Cimarusti said.

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“Why am I going to make her sit down and take a test the state is demanding that’s going to tell my little 8-year-old that she’s a failure? She’s not a failure,” Cimarusti said. “She’s a little girl that needs help that no one wants to give her.”

Assembly Education Committee Patrick Diegnan is advocating a clear policy addressing students who opt out of the test.

“What some superintendents are calling it is a refusal,” he said, adding that the state Department of Education has not issued any direction on dealing with students who refuse to take the tests.

“So this is really to put in place a mechanism that would be acknowledged throughout the state,” said Diegnan, D-Middlesex.

The committee backed a bill establishing a three-year moratorium on using PARCC test results to determine grade promotion or student placement in gifted or remedial programs.

Another measure would ban the use of commercially developed standardized tests in kindergarten to second grade.

Allendale resident Julie Borst urged lawmakers to pass that prohibition.

“Standardized testing has its place. However, standardized testing should not be part of children’s earliest school experiences,” she said. “This is a time for children to explore, experiment, play, and learn.”

Lawmakers discussed, but did not vote on, a measure that would let parents exclude their kids from PARCC testing.

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