Note: 186 seniors did not graduate because they did not pass PARCC and/or other assessments.
Source: NJ Department of Education
The debate over New Jersey’s high school graduation requirements flared up again this week with the release of the latest data for the Class of 2016, which showed that few students passed the state’s standardized tests to meet graduation requirements.
The Christie administration’s release on Friday showed that just one in 10 graduates — 9,000 students overall — met the requirements by passing the controversial PARCC tests, which in four years will be the benchmark exam to receive a high-school diploma.
According to the state’s data, half the students met their graduation requirements by passing substitute tests like the SAT, which will not be part of the requirement come 2021. And 6 percent — or nearly 6,000 students — relied on a portfolio appeal, which also faces an uncertain future.
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The administration in its release indicated that 96,284 students graduated overall in 2016, a slight increase from 95,149 in 2015.
“The Department of Education established a thoughtful and deliberative transitional process for the high school graduation assessment requirements, and this data shows that the vast majority of students in the Class of 2016 were able to successfully demonstrate completion of graduation assessment requirements,” said spokesman David Saenz in the release.
But questions remain about how and whether the new testing regimen will affect students going forward, as the state transitions to new requirements. Starting with the Class of 2021, New Jersey will require all high-school graduates to pass the PARCC’s 10th grade language arts and Algebra I test.
The Education Law Center, the Newark-based advocacy group that has been the chief critic of the new requirements, continued to contest both the current policies and the new rules. It cited the latest numbers as further proof of a misguided policy.
“The data shows that the NJDOE's new graduation policies are educationally unsound and need to be revised before they undermine NJ's high school graduation rate, which is currently the second highest in the nation,” said Stan Karp, Director of ELC's Secondary Reform Project.
“If these rules had been in full effect last year, over 80,000 students would have needed portfolio appeals to graduate, in addition to taking multiple layers of standardized tests.”