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Assembly Panel Approves Democratic Legislation to Ensure School Districts Are Prepared for New Teacher & Student Evaluation System

Jasey, Andrzejczak, Eustace, Diegnan, Watson Coleman, Wimberly, Oliver & Mainor Bill Will Halt New Standards until Thorough Review Takes Place

Democratic legislation to ensure that school districts statewide are prepared and ready to implement the new teacher and student evaluation system was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

The bill is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Bob Andrzejczak, Tim Eustace, Patrick Diegnan, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Benjie Wimberly, Sheila Oliver and Charles Mainor.

Since 2010, New Jersey, along with several other states, adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to replace the core curriculum content standards in language arts literacy and mathematics.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the use of assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) were to replace the current state testing to evaluate student achievement and teacher evaluation.

“This move will give us more time to assess what’s going on statewide in terms of implementation and evaluation capabilities,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Two major concerns from administrators, teachers and parents, alike, is all the time being spent preparing for testing and the lack of hardware capacity to conduct both the testing and evaluations. We want to make sure that these reforms do what they’re supposed to do and that is to improve teaching and learning for all kids so they can compete on an international level. We also want to make sure PARCC is used as a constructive tool, rather than a punishment.”

“Many concerns still exist throughout the educational community about the new common core standards, including the effectiveness and costs associated with it,” “I think it’s prudent that we err on the side of caution until we can thoroughly evaluate our readiness to proceed with these standards.”

“Among the many concerns we have about rushing to implement this new system is our districts’ technological preparedness to administer these evaluations,” said Andrzejczak (Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).

“The delays in implementation established under the bill are appropriate in light of the fact that the curriculum in all school districts has only recently been adjusted to reflect the new Common Core State Standards,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).

The committee merged three bills (A-3081/A-990/A-2901) into one (A-3081) today, approving a final measure (A-3081) that will establish a task force to analyze the implementation and potential effects of the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the teacher evaluation system, and the use of assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The task force would be required to issue a final report within one year of organizing.

Equally important, the bill also stipulates that the results of any testing may not be used in a teacher’s evaluation or used to effect high school graduation requirements until after the report or two years after the bill’s effective date, whichever is later.

“Major concerns exist over the increased testing time demanded by the new assessment system (PARCC) and how this will impact instructional time, staff development and teacher/parent interaction,” Diegnan (D-Middlesex).

“Students and teachers have not had an adequate period of time to adjust to the incorporation of these significant changes,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “There is far too much at stake for everyone involved to rush into this without being fully prepared.”

“Given the significant overhaul our educational system is poised for, I think pressing ‘pause’ on the implementation of these changes until we’re certain we’re prepared to proceed is the wise thing to do,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic).

The Education Reform Review Task Force will consist of 15 members from the education, legislative and public sectors with expertise in related educational instruction and curriculum areas.

The bill would require the task force to evaluate the implementation of the CCSS in English-language arts and mathematics, the use of PARCC assessments, and the implementation and potential effect of the teacher and principal evaluation systems.

“We’re witnessing changes in the way we measure student achievement, changes in the test content itself, and changes in the method of administering and completing this test,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “In light of this, a thorough examination of our readiness is not only warranted but necessary.”

“The future of our students, as well as the professional lives of our teachers, will be impacted by these changes,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “We need to make sure we get it right.”

The bill would also require a description of actions taken by the state to date to implement the CCSS and a timeline of any subsequent actions to be taken. An analysis of student performance on the state assessments prior to the 2012-2013 school year and in the 2012-2013 and subsequent school years; the analysis shall assess changes in the assessment results among different racial and ethnic groups and different economic groups.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.