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Jasey & Caputo Bill to Require Public/Charter Schools to Give Parents Detailed Information about Upcoming Standardized Tests Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) and Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) to require public and charter schools to provide detailed information to parents about all standardized tests that will be given to students in the school year was released Thursday by the Assembly Education Committee.

“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, who is a member of the 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 bill (A-4901) would require 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 student 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 is a member of the 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.”

The information provided to parents would have to 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 bill requires the commissioner of education to provide a model document to each school district and charter school so they can provide the required information to parents and guardians. The commissioner must also provide the costs incurred by the state to administer these assessments.

Under the bill, 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, where the annual School Performance Reports are presented to the public. The bill would become effective immediately, and would apply to the first full school year following enactment.