New Jersey cannot mandate that students pass two state exams before they can graduate high school, a state appellate court has ruled.
The unanimous decision was made public Monday but won't take effect for 30 days. It invalidates the state Department of Education's requirement that students must pass standardized exams —commonly known as the PARCC tests — in Algebra I and English.
The three-judge panel found the requirement — which was approved in 2016 and was due to take effect with the class of 2020 — doesn't match a state law that requires students to pass just a single test in 11th grade in order to graduate.
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"We do not intend to micromanage the administration of the proficiency examination mandated by the (law)," the judges wrote in their 21-page opinion. The 30-day delay for the ruling to take effect gives the state time to appeal to the state Supreme Court if it wants and avoids disrupting any ongoing statewide administration of proficiency examinations,.
State Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet said his agency and the state attorney general's office are assessing their next steps while aiming to minimize the impact on students.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a consortium of states that developed the tests, which came online as part of a Common Core curriculum in 2015. It has stirred controversy among parents, teachers and students in New Jersey over how much classroom time gets devoted to test-prep instead of to other parts of the curriculum.