On Hold for Now, Statewide Tests Coming in Fall

by John Mooney, Education Writer, NJ Spotlight News

This story is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. Link to FULL story: njspotlight.com/2021/04/start-strong-statewide-testing-grade-four-through-10-njsla-on-hold/

The Murphy administration has wrapped up its plans to postpone standardized testing for this school year, confirming with districts this week that there will be no state testing this spring and telling them to be ready for it in the fall instead.

The state Department of Education on Wednesday alerted districts to the final plan, ending months of speculation—and considerable confusion—as to what the administration sought to do and what the federal government would allow.

The state last week had initially informed districts of its plans to postpone the tests pending federal approval, but officials acknowledged a week later under questioning from legislators that there were still details to confirm with the federal Department of Education.

Pulling plug on battery of tests: Apparently with the details now confirmed, the state’s memo on Wednesday laid out those final details. First off, it said the NJ Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA), the extensive battery of online tests in language arts, math and science, would be canceled for the second year due to the pandemic and the considerable difficulties it caused.

In its place, the state would administer an abbreviated Start Strong assessment in the first weeks of the new school year—but with a few adjustments. The test would be mandatory for all districts and cumulative scores would be released to parents and the public, just as the NJSLA is. It would also break down by student categories, such as gender, income and race.

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