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Fine Print: Bill Would Let Schools Ease Into Common Core Standards, New Testing

Christie and state education officials remain committed to implementing new testing, standards

Common Core

What it is: A bill sponsored by state Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) seeks to slow down the impact of new state testing, while calling for creation of a task force to explore questions surrounding the state’s transition to the Common Core standards and new PARCC testing.

Dim prospects: The bill, A-3082, calls for slower implementation of the new standards and testing, especially with the new online PARCC exams now under field testing. But both the governor’s office and the state education department said little has changed in their own commitment to implementing the new requirements.

The bill: A consolidation of several bills, the legislation seeks to create a 16-member “education reform task force” to determine how the new Common Core and PARCC testing requirements will be implemented. The bill calls for a delay of up to two years in the use of PARCC results to measure student and teacher progress.

Supported by educators:Among more than 30 advocates and others speaking in favor of the bill yesterday were the president of the New Jersey Education Association and representatives of the state’s principals and superintendents groups.

The pricetag: Among a number of concerns raised about how the changes are rolling out, is the budget impact -- the president of the school board in Washington Township in Gloucester County said the cost of the new testing and teaching training is nearing $5 million just in her district.

Too much, too soon: “What I’ve heard is not an objection to the evaluation piece or even the Common Core, but the fact that it is happening all at once,” Jasey said. “They really don’t have the capacity to do it and do it well. We want to do it, but we want to do it well and we’re just spinning at this point.”

State officials absent: No representatives of the state Department of Education attended the hearing yesterday. That prompted the committee’s’ chairman, state Assemblyman Patrick Diegan Jr. (D-Middlesex), to say, “This is beyond annoying.”

View from the Senate: The chairman of the Senate’s education committee, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), said yesterday said she had yet to review the bill, but agreed with slowing down implementation of at least some of the requirements. Ruiz said she would favor postponing for a year the use of the new PARCC testing in measuring individual teacher and student performance.

Quote: “This is something that is new to New Jersey, and we have to be responsible in its rollout,” Ruiz said. “The point is not to get into the middle of this and have unintended consequences.”

What happens next: While the Assembly bill moves to passage in that chamber, there is not yet a companion bill in the Senate. While Ruiz said yesterday said that she would entertain such a bill in the Senate education committee, she said she is also looking at other alternatives, including state administrative code and regulations.

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