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State testing FAQ’s for Parents

Here you will find answers to the questions most commonly asked about the NJSLA.

 

Question: Why is Lumberton administering the NJSLA?

Answer: The state of New Jersey has had statewide assessments since the 1970’s. In addition the Elementary School Education Act (ESEA), recently reapproved as the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to test students in grades three through eight.  Federal funds are tied to this requirement.  If a district fails to test a minimum of 95% of its students in grades three through eight, federal money that serves as an important and essential supplement to the district budget will be withheld.

The state of New Jersey currently uses the NJSLA to meet this mandate.  It was designed  to more accurately measure academic standards in science, mathematics and English language arts.

 

Question: What is the NJSLA like?

Answer: The test does include some multiple choice questions.  However, the types of questions being asked are not what we traditionally expect.  For example, students are asked to identify parts of a text that support an answer they have chosen.  In some cases, they are asked to choose several answers from a list, selecting the ones that are the best choices.  They may be asked to  put key events in sequence or to match details with a main idea or theme that they support.  Other test items ask students to produce a written response that explains how they solved a math problem or answer a question about a text they have read.  They are asked to write a longer response that analyzes a text. Finally, there is a portion that requires students to write an essay or narratice that is several paragraphs in length.

Question: How “High-Stakes” is NJSLA?

Answer:

  • NJSLA  scores do not determine whether a child in New Jersey  is promoted to the next grade.
  • Our district includes NJSLA scores as just one measure of student achievement in making decisions regarding eligibility for programs to address student needs, such as the Gifted and Talented Program, advanced classes in grades 5-8, and Title I support. Other measures include  classroom performance, report cards, district benchmark assessments and, in the case of the Gifted and Talented program, the results of other standardized tests.

 

QuestionDoes the Lumberton School District “teach to the test”?

Answer:

  • NJSLA is designed to assess student mastery of the state’s standards for the end of each grade.  The Lumberton curriculum is aligned to those standards.  Therefore, we are confident that providing quality instruction based on the curriculum will prepare students to perform well without “teaching to the test”.  Furthermore, because the assessment measures students’ ability to think critically and apply skills and concepts, it is not really possible to “teach to the test”.
  •  That being said, we do recognize the importance of preparing students to show what they know on a computer platform.  We do ensure they have opportunities prior to the start of the test to do some practice through the Pearson website.

 

Question: What if there are technology problems during the test?

Answer: The district uses caching to ensure that student test responses are not lost in the event of lost connectivity.  The district technology team, the school test coordinator, and the district test coordinator area all on site to deal with any problems that arise. During NJSlA testing in the spring of 2019, there were only a few minor technology glitches which were easily resolved.

 

 


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