Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

New Jersey Senate delays vote on test consequences

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey state Senate is giving Gov. Chris Christie more time to work out a compromise on how to slow down use of a new standardized test to judge teachers' performance.

Sen. Jeff Van Drew said Wednesday that the Senate will scrap its plan to vote Thursday on his bill to delay linking consequences to student performance on tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The exams, designed to measure how students are learning under the national Common Core standards, are to be used starting with the 2014-15 school year.

Under a 2012 state law that overhauled New Jersey's teacher tenure process, how much students improve on the tests will be used as a factor in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers.

Christie, a Republican, is a major advocate of measures to hold teachers accountable for how much students learn.

Van Drew, a Democrat, said it's expected that Christie would veto the bill calling for a two-year delay in using the new tests for those purposes. Christie has been silent about the bill, but Van Drew and other lawmakers say the governor is concerned that the state could lose some federal education funding if it delays using the tests.

Van Drew said Christie is contemplating instead taking executive action that would phase in consequences of the tests - perhaps reducing what percentage of a teacher's evaluation the results could comprise initially.

Steve Wollmer, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, said his group has been speaking with Christie's administration - usually its foil - about composition of a commission that would evaluate how the test results are used.

He said teachers, school board representatives, administrators and testing experts should all be included. "You can't have a star chamber that's named by the governor," Wollmer said.

Wollmer said the issues a commission could tackle include how well the new test measures what it's supposed to and how to measure student growth in the first year of the new exams.

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GEOFF MULVIHILL The Associated Press
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