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NJ’s Decision to Stick with PARCC Puts It Among Small Minority of States

According to a new report, only seven states are using PARCC to evaluate students in 2015-2016, as more states go their own way

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As arguments over the state’s participation in PARCC rage on, it appears as if New Jersey’s reliance on the standardized tests is making it increasingly isolated.

New Jersey is now just one of seven states, along with Washington, D.C., that is slated to give at least some version of the PARCC language arts and math in the 2015-2016 school year, according to a new state-by-state survey conducted by the Education Commission of the States, a Colorado-based policy organization.

Those numbers are down from as many as 20 states initially in the PARCC testing consortium when New Jersey joined 2011, picking from two such multistate partnerships that had emerged in the country to develop new tests.

But standardized testing has moved to the forefront of debate both nationally and in individual states, and numerous states have since dropped out of testing consortiums like PARCC or have significantly modified their testing to fit their own needs and politics.

Since last November, 15 states have made “significant changes” in testing policies, the ECS said.

The other states still expected to give the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests this year are Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, according to the survey.

And even then, there are issues about how much PARCC will actually be used. Massachusetts, for instance, is weighing whether to combine PARCC with its existing high school test.

The survey also noted that the Smarter Balanced testing consortium now has 15 member-states --including Connecticut, Delaware, and California -- also down from a year ago. PARCC and Smarter Balanced were the two main testing consortia created to develop standardized exams that would allow states to compare their results against one another.

Meanwhile, 25 other states have opted to develop their own state-specific tests, up from 20 a year ago.

Separate from these mandated exams, the report listed 27 states that also have statewide exams in social studies and history in at least some grades -- including four that use the U.S. citizenship test. New Jersey has no such statewide exam.

New Jersey is in the slim majority of states with no requirements for taking at least a portion of the college entrance exams, either, such as the SAT and ACT. Twenty-one states have such requirements.

Every state, including New Jersey, has at least one science exam in elementary, middle, and high school.

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