New Jersey has been committed to standards-based assessments for over thirty years. In 1975, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Public School Education Act (PSEA) "to provide to all children of New Jersey, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, the educational opportunity which will prepare them to function politically, economically and socially in a democratic society." One year later, the PSEA was amended to establish uniform standards of minimum achievement in basic communication and computational skills which provided the legal basis for the use of a test as a graduation requirement. From 1978 through 1982, third-, sixth- and ninth-grade students participated in the Minimum Basic Skills (MBS) testing program for reading and mathematics.
In May 1996, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) which defined what all New Jersey students should know and be able to do by the end of the fourth and eighth grades, and upon completion of a New Jersey public school education. The CCCS, which are revised every five years, have been the basis for assessing the academic achievement of students in grades 3 through 12. In addition to the elementary assessments developed during this period, the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) replaced the HSPT11 as the state's graduation test for all students who entered the eleventh grade in the fall of 2001.
In response to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requirements New Jersey developed an assessment system that currently includes The New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) 3-8, HSPA, the Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities, and end-of-course high school competency assessments in biology and algebra. Find a complete history of the New Jersey testing program here: http://www.state.nj.us/education/assessment/history.shtml.
The adoption of the Core Standards has necessitated the development of new assessments that measure the increased skill requirements. The Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium of 23 states, including New Jersey and Washington, DC, that is developing the next generation assessment system that measures the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and student preparedness for college and career. As a member of PARCC (http://www.achieve.org/PARCC), New Jersey is committed to the administration of online assessments for the Common Core State Standards in the 2014/2015 school year.
Changes also are coming in the adult education testing program. The New Jersey Department of Education has been examining developments in the field of adult education in an effort to expand the assessment options available for a state-issued high school equivalency diploma beginning in 2014.