TRENTON – New Jersey’s mandatory high school graduation assessments will return next March, though in a new version, after being skipped for two straight years due to the pandemic.

The State Board of Education approved the New Jersey State Graduation Proficiency Assessment at its meeting this week and required that it be taken starting with this year’s juniors, the Class of 2023. It includes English and math exams aligned with 10th grade curriculum standards.

The tests are scheduled to be given March 14 to 18, 2022, with makeup tests one week later.

Students must take the test. Those who fail can meet the state’s graduation requirement through alternative assessments or a portfolio appeal process.

The state has long required high school students to take a graduation assessment, but the most recent version of the rules was invalidated by the courts in 2018 because it wasn’t administered starting in 11th grade, as required by state law.

Consent orders established graduation requirements for four years of graduates – the classes of 2019 through 2022 – that allowed for alternative assessments like the SATs or the portfolio process.

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The state also will restore the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment given primarily in grades 3 to 9, to be administered in a window from late April to early June, depending on the district. A science SLA is given in grades 5, 8 and 11.

The state will also administer a back-to-school exam called the Start Strong Assessments between Sept. 13 and Oct. 22, with the specific dates again depending on the district. Math and English tests will be given in grades 4 through 10, and science tests will be given in grades 6, 9 and 12.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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