Statement on the agreement for the high school graduation assessment requirements process from the New Jersey Department of Education on May 6, 2016:
Today the NJDOE along with the Education Law Center (ELC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed to a settlement regarding the process by which students can complete the state’s long standing high school graduation test requirements.
The NJDOE notified districts in September of 2014 that, as education officials phased in PARCC as the new graduation test, they would be using a transitional process to allow time for students to learn and teachers to teach the new materials that would be tested. NJDOE proposed using the same transitional structure as was previously done in 2010 using alternative assessments (e.g., SAT/ACT/Accuplacer) and a portfolio appeals process for students who either were not good test takers or who were unable to take one of the alternative tests. Under current law and regulations, the NJDOE is permitted to use alternative assessments and a portfolio appeals process for meeting the graduation test requirement.
The settlement leaves intact the NJDOE’S structure and strategies for graduation for the 2016 graduating class and provides enhancements to the administration of the portfolio appeals process, much of which is already being implemented by the NJDOE, such as additional survey data regarding districts filing appeals that will be shared with the ELC.
The NJDOE is pleased regarding the implementation to date of the portfolio appeals process. Our initial surveys in this area indicated around 10,000 portfolio appeals would be submitted and we have already reviewed nearly 6,000 completed appeals. In 2010, the first year of the portfolio appeals process, approximately 10,000 appeals were submitted and processed, but almost all after May 1. The NJDOE is committed to continuing to process portfolio appeals and work with local districts to process portfolio appeals in an expedient manner. Currently, the timeframe for reviewing is approximately two business days.
Regulations that are necessary to establish PARCC as the graduation requirement have already been proposed to the State Board of Education and will be formally adopted in late summer as a final step. Although all parties wanted regulations to be in place sooner, the NJDOE needed to first review the results of the first PARCC administration, which were not available until the fall of 2015, in order to determine both the length of time before PARCC should become the sole graduation requirement and the appropriate form of PARCC tests that would be the graduation standard. Based on those results, we made 2021 the first year all students would need to pass PARCC. We also designated Algebra 1 and ELA 10 the appropriate tests since they aligned best with college and career readiness expectations. We also needed to wait for the Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments to complete their work, which involved reviewing this issue, before proposing final regulations. The Commission released a final report in January 2016, and the NJDOE is adopting the recommendations of the Commission on this issue.
We believe that the deliberative process set forth by the NJDOE and informed by stakeholders adequately ensures that all those students who have demonstrated successful completion of graduation requirements will be certified to graduate.