(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) and Ralph R. Caputo (D-Essex) that would require public and charter schools to provide detailed information to parents about all standardized tests that will be administered to students in a given school year is now law.
“Parents and teachers have expressed tremendous concern about lost instruction time caused by administration of these tests and whether they accurately reflect student progress and achievement,” said Jasey, the chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and a member of the Assembly Education Committee. “Testing has taken on outsized importance in recent years and parents want as much information as possible. By providing basic information such as testing dates and materials that will be covered at the beginning of the school year, parents will be properly informed and better positioned to help their children prepare.”
The new law (formerly A-4901) requires school districts and charter schools to give parents or guardians detailed information about any state assessment or commercially-developed standardized assessment that will be administered to students during the school year, by no later than October 1.
“Much has been said about standardized tests and their effectiveness, so it is understandable that parents are worried,” said Caputo, who also is a member of the education committee. “Knowing what to expect and how the school plans to administer these assessments well in advance, can help dissuade some of those fears, and empower parents so they can help their children prepare and maximize their performance come test day.”
Under the law, the information provided to parents must include, but not be limited to:
- the subject area of the assessment and grade levels covered by the assessment;
- the date or range of potential dates the test will be administered;
- the time allotted for the student to take and complete the test;
- any accommodations or accessibility options available to students;
- information on how and when the student and his parent or guardian can access both sample question and answers to the test and the student’s results; and
- whether the test is required by the state, the federal government, or both.
The law further requires the state Department of Education (DOE) to provide a model document to each school district and charter school so they can provide the required information to parents and guardians. The document must provide the costs incurred by the state to administer the assessments.
Additionally, the law requires that the information provided annually to parents or guardians must also be made available at the school district’s board of education meeting and the charter school’s board of trustees meeting when the annual School Performance Reports are presented to the public.
The law takes effect immediately, but will not apply until the Sept. 2016 — Jun. 2017 school year.