N.J. To Get Funds For School Testing

school-busNew Jersey will be getting a portion of federal Race to the Top grants to help the state develop new standardized tests to improve assessment of student performance. The grant money is separate from the pot of money doled out last week by the federal Department of Education. New Jersey missed qualifying for that grant by a slim margin, setting off a political skirmish in the state that has yet to fade.

The new grants, announced Thursday by federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan and totaling $330 million, were awarded to two groups of states. New Jersey was a part of both groups, named the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers.

“These are not pilot projects,” Duncan said in prepared remarks announcing the grants. “The winning consortia will be designing and implementing comprehensive assessment systems in math and English language arts.”

The partnership consortium is tasked with replacing the single assessment given to students with a series of tests to be given throughout the school year. Doing this will help avoid the high stakes associated with a one-exam assessment, according to information supplied by the federal education department.

The new assessments “will test students’ ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media,” a release stated. States that are not a part of the winning groups will be able to use the tests that are developed. Read more in the APP.

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