New Jersey appeals court strikes down current PARCC test as graduation requirement

A New Jersey court rules the state can’t require students to pass the PARCC test to graduate high school. The ruling comes as Gov. Phil Murphy is scaling back use of the test.



A New Jersey appeals court has struck down state regulations dictating how high schools use the PARCC exams.

In a New Year’s Eve opinion, the three-judge panel scrapped state Department of Education rules that said schools had to give an English test in tenth grade and an Algebra test in any high school year and that students had to pass them to graduate.

According to the opinion, that policy violated state law, which says New Jersey high school students must take one combined exam in eleventh grade to determine whether they can get a diploma.

“The statute says that the graduation test has to be a single comprehensive exam in the eleventh grade,” said Jessica Levin, with the Education Law Center, which was one of the groups that filed the legal challenge. “The [DOE] regulations blatantly contradict that requirement.”

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The court stayed its ruling for 30 days to give the DOE time to adopt new rules.

The opinion was a temporary victory for parents and advocates who have lobbied the state to stop using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers standardized tests.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on a promise to get rid of the PARCC test, but so far his administration has only taken steps to scale back its use.

Monday’s ruling also reinforced the requirements that there be retesting options for students as well as alternatives to a standardized test in order to graduate.

“Under the current statute, the DOE would have to have a comprehensive eleventh grade graduation exam that also has re-testing opportunities on that exam for students and access to alternatives,” Levin said.

New Jersey is one of only about twelve states, according to Levin, that still uses a standardized test as one of the requirements to graduate high school.

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