NJEA President Marie Blistan called for an end to the use of statewide standardized testing as a graduation requirement for students in New Jersey’s public schools.

Testifying before the Joint Committee on Public Schools, Blistan highlighted the many flaws of statewide-standardized testing, and she specifically highlighted the negative impacts that these assessments have on historically marginalized students. Blistan also made it clear that effective testing should inform educational decisions and not be used merely to fulfill requirements.

“What’s brings us all here today is children” said Blistan. “We must ensure our students get what they need to be successful and productive citizens. High-stakes tests, such as ‘exit tests’, do not help educators inform their instruction nor do they help inform student learning. High-stakes tests don’t help our students.”

New Jersey is just one of eleven states that still requires students to pass a high school exit exam to earn a high school diploma.

Blistan was joined by NJEA Associate Director of Professional Development and Instructional Issues Dr. Christine Miles. Miles presented an overview of the research detailing the negative consequences of using exit exams as graduation requirements.

Miles said that too many schools waste too much time taking tests during the school year, and she pointed out that current state statute and regulations governing K-12 testing call for far more testing than federal law requires.

Federal law mandates that students are tested in Math and ELA annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. New Jersey requires students to be tested in math and ELA annually in grades 3 through 8 and grades 9 through 11. Additionally, students in New Jersey public schools must currently pass either the NJSLA ELA and Math or an alternate pathway assessment, as well as meet their attendance requirements and pass all their academic courses, to graduate high school.

“By eliminating the unnecessary and burdensome exit testing graduation requirement and transitioning to an authentic, performance-based model, we tear down the fences standing between our students and their futures” said Miles.

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