Christie Backs Introduction of New Testing Regime in NJ

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is proposing a new system of testing that would force students graduating from high school to take a series of subject exams similar to those administered by the Board of Regents to students in New York State. Christie is hoping to begin the development of the program and the drafting of the exams right away so that schools could begin administering them by the time current fourth graders hit high school.

Currently, New Jersey students only take a single test that judges their competence in mathematics and English. Under the new system, this test will be split into two, and tests in other subjects such as science, social studies — and 8 other subjects — are also being considered. Christie hopes kids currently in middle school will be the first to take the tests, but the results will not have an impact on their ability to graduate. That will eventually be changed either via legislation or new regulations put into place by the state education board.

It's unclear how much the plan would cost. If it adopts the social studies and science requirements, the state would have to purchase or develop the new tests. English and math tests would be developed through a consortium that includes nearly half the states in the country, and that is funded by the federal government. But the state would still have to pay for the tests on an ongoing basis.

These consortium-created tests are the same ones that are the currently the source of conflict between the Colorado Board of Education, which is opposing their adoption, and the state's legislators and the governor who support them. A similar bumping of heads is not anticipated in this case, as the New Jersey Board of Education is entirely under the control of Governor Christie.

The new tests are in line with the recommendations offered by the New Jersey College and Career Readiness Task Force whose findings were recently made public. In its report, the task force advised the state to replace its High School Proficiency Exam and the Alternative High School Assessment with separate exams in the subjects that are commonly part of the high school curriculum.

Governor Chris Christie, who has endorsed the Task Force's findings, says that the new assessment regime will allow schools to identify students who are in danger of failing earlier and target them for more assistance in order to help them graduate on time.

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