As the New Jersey State Board of Education considers proposed revisions to the Standards and Assessment Code (N.J.A.C. 6A:8), seven New Jersey State Teachers of the Year wrote a joint letter to the board, offering their perspective as recognized educational leaders. In the letter they express their concerns over how testing affects instructional time and continuity. Recognizing that standardized assessments can offer value and play a role that serves students and educators, they note that a “balanced and judicious system of assessment with opportunities that are connected to the curriculum, state standards, and the natural flow of classroom instruction are in the best interest of students.”

To that end, they provide suggestions for assessment design and implementation and the process by which the tests are developed.


October 28, 2019

Kathy Goldenberg
President
NJ State Board of Education
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625

Re: Request of Considerations to The New Jersey State Board of Education in Deliberation of Proposed Standards and Assessment Code: N.J.A.C. 6A:8 

Dear President Goldenberg and Members of the State Board of Education:

As individuals, the honored New Jersey State Teachers of the Year have been recognized for myriad areas of expertise and accomplishments in our classrooms, schools, districts, state, and nation.  While our experiences and contributions are diverse, we share a continued commitment to students, educators, and education overall.  With our overarching tenet of dedication to education in our great state, we ask the Board to please consider the following issues, as you deliberate the next iteration of assessments in New Jersey.

Some of our requests for consideration are as follows:

Instructional Time and Continuity

  • The overall amount of time spent on standardized assessments with regard to their loss of instructional time
  • Limited interruptions to the pacing and delivery of daily instruction
  • Assessment in a format that is a natural flow of the curriculum and pacing of instruction
  • Unintended consequences of potential emotional impacts on students engaged in lengthy assessment formats
  • Impact of time constraints on students (especially students with special needs) that are encountered in standard tests

Assessment Design and Implementation

  • Creation and delivery of assessments that provide performance-based opportunities for students to engage in authentic demonstration of mastery of content and skills
  • Alignment of assessments with their outcomes for both content, process, and standards
  • Assessments that can be adapted for individual student needs
  • Assessment of conceptual understanding as the main goal, and standards of performance that are clear and communicated to students
  • Assessments that provide opportunities for students to be involved in the design process
  • Assessments that provide students with choice within a designed framework
  • Opportunities for formative assessments to increase performance on summative assessments
  • Assessment tasks that are inclusive of the curriculum, and engage students in the process of learning, in addition to the content
  • Accessibility and adaptability of the assessments for academically diverse students

Process

  • Inclusion of teachers from the field in addition to assessment specialists to collaborate and design assessment that is aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
  • Designed timeline that provides a sufficient pilot period before implementing new assessments

As educators, we recognize the value and the role that assessment serves for our students, educators, and programs. With that understanding, some issues need to be considered when testing requirements are revised and enacted. We believe that a balanced and judicious system of assessment that provides students with opportunities that are connected to the curriculum, state standards, and natural flow of classroom instruction are in the best interest of students. We ask that you please consider the aforementioned items when making your decisions about what best serves the children in New Jersey.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Diane Cummins                                                
State Teacher of the Year                            
2004  

Mrs. Peggy Stewart              
State Teacher of the Year
2005 

Dr. Maryann Woods-Murphy
State Teacher of the Year
2010

Mrs. Jeanne Muzi                                         
State Teacher of the Year            
2009

Dr. Kathleen Assini   
State Teacher of the Year
2014

Mrs. Jennifer Skomial 
State Teacher of the Year
2019

Mrs. Kimberly Dickstein Hughes
State Teacher of the Year
2020

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