N.J. Class of 2019 won't have to pass PARCC to graduate

TRENTON — New Jersey's new class of high school freshmen won't have to pass the PARCC exams to graduate, and some students in 11th grade will be exempt from taking PARCC's English test this year, the state's Department of Education announced today.

In a memo sent to school superintendents, the department announced that it would extend the graduation requirements currently in place for high school seniors, juniors and sophomores to the Class of 2019, the new freshmen class.

That means those students can use a passing score on The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams to meet graduation requirements, or they can instead use their scores on the SAT, ACT or other college entrance exams to prove they are ready to graduate.

New Jersey extended the existing graduation requirements to give schools and students more time to transition to the new tests, the memo said.

In a separate memo, the department also announced that high school juniors who take Advanced Placement English tests or International Baccalaureate English tests in 11th grade will be exempt from PARCC's 11th grade English test.

"We are comfortable that that group of students does not need to participate in the PARCC in order to get the information we need about them and their college and career readiness," state Education Commissioner David Hespe told NJ Advance Media.

Hespe said he expects that policy to remain in place for future 11th grade students. The change is being made as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the testing time and demand of state assessments, he said.

"We are basing it on what we hear from the field and what people are saying to us," he said.

The state also announced that test participation rates and student scores on the 11th grade section of last school year's PARCC English exams will not count for federal accountability purposes. The exclusion of those scores was approved when the U.S. Department of Education renewed New Jersey's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Law, state Department of Education spokesman David Saenz said.

However, those scores will appear on a school's state-issued performance report, Saenz said.

New Jersey will have data on last year's PARCC results later this fall and use that information to help guide future decisions about the tests, Hespe said.

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