Thu, June 30, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions When Discussing Student Abilities and Assessments

In an effort to help parents/guardians better understand terms which are used to identify and assess a student's strengths and weaknesses, we are providing a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding various assessment tools and programs. Any further questions can be directed to the Curriculum Department.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is NCLB and how does it impact my child's instructional program?

The No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was signed into law on January 8, 2002 by President Bush. Among the guiding forces of NCLB, all children (by the end of third grade) are expected to be reading at grade levels by 2014.  The Act also contains the President's four basic education reform principles:

> stronger accountability for results,
> increased flexibility and local control,
> expanded options for parents, and
> an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.


What is the NJ ASK and how is it different for different grades?

The New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge is administered to students in grades three through eight throughout the state. The federal government expects that each state will create assessments that are based upon the core curriculum content standards.  The Department of Education works with testing companies to create tests that are grade level specific, targeting literacy, math and science.

Why is the NJ ASK given in grades 3-8, but not at other grades?

In accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, students in grades three through eight and grades eleven and twelve are tested in reading, writing, math and science.  Science is tested at grades four, eight and at the high school levels only. 

How are the scores used in our district?

Scores from the NJ ASK are used in a variety of ways.  Among other measures, the NJ ASK is used to aid in placement for Basic Skills, Academically Talented, middle school leveling as well as ensuring that classes at the primary and intermediate levels are grouped appropriately and with adequate representation of learners. 

What is AYP and how does it relate to our schools?

In accordance with No Child Left Behind, each state must develop and use an assessment for measuring student progress.  The state of New Jersey developed the NJ ASK.  This assessment, and all of those created by the various states, is used to determine whether schools are making adequate yearly progress (AYP).

AYP is an individual state's measure of progress toward the goal of 100 percent of students achieving state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets the minimum level of proficiency that the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year on annual tests and related academic indicators. 


Why can't parents or teachers see the tests, or see them after our children have taken them?
The test development process summarized above is rigorous and highly technical, requiring a significant fiscal investment by the state, and, ultimately, by its citizens. To reduce costs, New Jersey reuses its test items over several years. This means that the security of most test content must be maintained. Releasing the text of the annual assessments would require the development of totally new tests each year, which would be prohibitively expensive. However, fully representative sample tests for most programs have been released by the state in print and electronic form. Test specifications and other informational materials, also available on the Department of Education website, contain numerous illustrative examples of test questions for each grade and content area.  (Source:

What are the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and how are they used in our district?

The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards (NJ CCCS) were first adopted by the State Board of Education in 1996. The standards describe what students should know and be able to do upon completion of a thirteen-year public education. Revised every five years, the standards provide local school districts with clear and specific benchmarks for student achievement in nine content areas. Developed by panels of teachers, administrators, parents, students, and representatives from higher education, business, and the community, the standards were influenced by national standards, research-based practice, and student need.  (Source:

State testing, including the NJ ASK, is written based upon the NJ CCCS and in-class assessments are developed in conjunction with the standards.  In our district, the NJ CCCS are used to create and adopt curriculum, devise assessments and drive our adoption schedules. NJ CCCS exist in every subject matter, including math, language arts, social studies, science, visual and performing art, health and physical education, world languages, technology, career education and consumer and family life skills.