Test Scores Decline as New Jersey Aligns Exams With Common Core

The Common Core standards are a set of demanding learning goals formulated to prepare students for college. Though they were adopted in New Jersey in 2010, the 2014-15 school year was the first time students were tested using an exam specifically designed for those standards. That exam, called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or Parcc, will be used in seven states and in the District of Columbia this year.

In previous years, on easier tests, New Jersey students fared significantly better. In the 2013-14 school year, 66 percent of third through eighth graders scored as proficient in English, and 74 percent were proficient in math. In high school, the results were even higher, with 93 percent of students passing the English tests and 85 percent passing the math exams.

On the new tests, only 23 percent of high school students who took the Algebra II test scored as proficient, and just 41 percent of 11th graders were proficient in English.

New York saw a similar decline when it switched to more demanding tests in 2013. (New York uses different exams aligned with the Common Core.) That year, 31 percent of students statewide were proficient in math and English, while the previous year, 55 percent passed the reading test and 65 percent passed in math.

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