Assessment – An Integral Component of theTeaching and Learning Process
The public conversation about New Jersey students’ learning focuses once again this fall on assessment. Commissioner Hespe and his staff addressed Chief Education Officers at Parsippany Hills High School on October 15th during the NJASA Commissioner Convocation about the upcoming release of PARCC scores and their use. A second Commissioner Convocation is slated for Hammonton High School on November 17th where additional updates can be expected. The October 15th Convocation was soon followed by an October 20th event at which the Commissioner released statewide PARCC results for students in grades three through eight and high school. The program included participation by representatives of NJASA, NJPSA, NJPTA, NJSBA, higher education, and business and industry. The Commissioner and participants spoke to the value of the PARCC assessments and how the results will be used to raise student achievement. Notably, nearly 99% of New Jersey students took the test in computer format.
At the October 20th program, I participated in a K-12 discussion forum with Hope Township teacher Lianne Markus, Camden Chief Education Officer Paymon Rouhanifard, NJPSA Executive Director Patricia Wright, PTA President-Elect Rose Acerra and NJSBA President Donald Webster. Our conversation focused on the valuable data which PARCC provides to educators that has been unavailable through prior state student assessment program results. Student score reports are more informative than those provided through prior state assessments for both parents and educators. PARCC is scheduled to release test items later this month and student scores in November, further supporting educator examination of student needs and changes to curriculum and instruction.
I believe that the many resources provided by PARCC will be well received by New Jersey educators. These resources include score report guides for teachers and parents; distinct video presentations for teachers, principals and district leaders; Teaching Channel Videos; Model Content Frameworks; Performance Level Descriptors; Text Complexity Worksheets; Blueprints & Evidence Statement Tables; Practice Tests; and Technology Tutorials. Teachers will have diagnostic and formative tools to guide their instruction with students. These and future PARCC results will better guide our examination of the curriculum we present to students and the instruction that they receive from teachers.
New Jersey Department of Education personnel will support the work of school leaders in informing students, parents and communities of the assessment results through development of a template cover letter to accompany parent score reports, a Power Point presentation for public presentations, and a score report sample for dissemination to parents whose children did not participate in the assessment.
The teaching-learning process becomes better focused and more effective by relevant information received from each component: curriculum, instruction and assessment. As PARCC delivers enhanced information about how students are meeting the Core Curriculum Content Standards we can develop individual student plans guiding them toward success as we modify and enhance curricula and classroom instruction to improve the achievement of all students.
NJASA staff members and the volunteer members of the NJASA Committees look forward to supporting your work with New Jersey’s public school students through these exciting and challenging times.