How young is too young for standardized tests in New Jersey?
Students in the Garden State should not be given standardized tests until they reach the third grade, according to several New Jersey lawmakers including the chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.
There is a push to prohibit, by law, administering standardized exams from kindergarten through second grade.
"Actually right now here in New Jersey we don't test kids K-2 -- at least we're not supposed to, but there are parents complaining that in fact this is happening in some districts. Our feeling and the feeling of educators is that this really shouldn't be happening. They're too young," said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Maplewood), a member of the Assembly Education Panel.
Jasey said there should be a law that explicitly prohibits schools from giving standardized tests until students reach the third grade, unless the testing is required by state or federal law.
"There is stress on the kids and really those early grades should be about the excitement of learning, the love of learning," Jasey said.
Bi-partisan legislation co-sponsored by Assembly members, Pat Diegnan (D-South Plainfield), Charles Mainor (D-Jersey City), Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson), Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) and Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) would codify in law that the exams can't be administered until a child enters third grade. The bill does not ban all testing in grades K-2. Evaluations can be given and scored by a teacher or school board.
"Children in the early grades should spend as much class time as possible learning the fundamentals of reading, math and social skills," DeCroce said in an emailed statement. "These years are crucial for forming the foundation for future education. Instead of testing them to collect data, we should allow kids to be kids."
Jasey is also spearheading an effort to enact another standardized test-related measure that would require public and charter schools to give parents advance notice of new state exams for K-12 students.
According to the measure, schools would have to provide information -- no later than Oct. 1 of each year -- that would include:
- The reason for the test;
- How much preparation time is needed;
- The length of the tests;
- The rules and costs associated with each test.
"There's an increasing concern and I think legitimate concern about the amount of instructional time being lost to the administration of the tests and the prep for the tests," Jasey explained.
Both bills were unanimously approved Monday by the full Assembly and now await action in the New Jersey Senate.