New Jersey: Frequently Asked Questions Of The Office Of Evaluation and Assessment
Q. What is the purpose of the statewide assessments?
A. The purpose of New Jersey’s state assessments is to promote and measure educational achievement, by helping to show how well New Jersey schools are doing in helping students achieve the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) at each benchmark grade level. Score reports are useful in helping pinpoint weaknesses not only for the individual student but also at the programmatic level for the school or district. Educators throughout the country are committed to the principle that regular assessments are essential to informing meaningful and progressive educational practice. That commitment is embodied in both federal and state law. A "high stakes" or "gateway" test such as the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) is intended to ensure that New Jersey students have the knowledge and skills they need in order to take full advantage of the opportunities that await them upon graduation from high school.
Q. How are the assessments developed?
A. The statewide assessments are developed through an intensive collaboration among NJDOE assessment specialists, New Jersey classroom teachers and administrators, and a testing vendor (such as Pearson Educational Measurement, ETS, Measurement Incorporated, Harcourt Assessment, Riverside Publishing and others). The testing vendor is chiefly responsible for the production, distribution, scoring, and reporting of the assessments, but the actual test content is closely supervised by NJ DOE staff and committees of New Jersey educators who ensure that every test question – or "item" as they are usually called -- is aligned with New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards, grade appropriate, fairly and clearly presented, and devoid of any bias that would disadvantage one or more subgroups of test-takers. The tests comprise a combination of multiple choice and open-ended items. Every item is field-tested before it is used on a regular statewide test. Statistics about the "performance" of that item are carefully reviewed by the NJDOE for signs of weakness in item construction or fairness and weak items are eliminated or revised.
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