The state Department of Education has made the school-level scores on the new PARCC state tests available, but viewers will need a high tolerance for spreadsheets.
The data released Tuesday give the first glimpse into the effect of the opt-out movement by parents refusing to allow their children to take the new tests.
The “not tested” number in the data includes students who were absent, did not take the test for medical reasons or were exempt from the taking the test. State education officials warned against using that number as an indication of the number of parents who opted out of testing.
But the data show a much larger number of students did not take the PARCC in 2015 than did not take the ASK or HSPA in 2014.
Statewide, of the almost 905,000 students eligible to take a PARCC language arts test, almost 135,000 students were “not tested” in 2015. In 2014, just 11,226 students of more than 700,000 eligible students did not take an ASK or HSPA test.
The state pattern shows the largest number of “not tested” students was at the high school level, where almost 80,000 students did not take the language arts test, almost 30,000 in 11th grade alone.
Education Commissioner David Hespe had speculated that more high school students did opt out because they could substitute the results of SAT or other standardized tests they had taken.
Save Our Schools New Jersey, which has speculated about the opt-out number, said Tuesday that the state report confirms that New Jersey had the second-highest refusal numbers in the nation, behind 220,000 in New York, a state with a much larger number of students.
The Press of Atlantic City reviewed the “not-tested” numbers for the eighth-grade and 11th-grade language arts tests in local districts.
Buena Regional High School reported 93 of 195 students not tested in Grade 11 language arts; Oakcrest had 105 of 241 students not tested, Ocean City had 89 of 304 students not tested, and Barnegat Township had 223 of 275 students not tested.
Districts with a low number of students not tested included Egg Harbor Township with 59 of 584 students, Hammonton with 49 of 377 students, Mainland Regional with 37 of 315 students, Cumberland Regional with 14 of 303 students and Millville with 19 of 240 students.
At the eighth grade level, Absecon had 56 of 88 students not testing in language arts, Margate had 31 of 49 students not tested, and North Wildwood had 19 of 22 not tested.
Education Commissioner David Hespe said as schools enter the second year of PARCC, parents and teachers can see how additional data it provides can improve teaching and learning in ways that the old test could not.
Curt Nath, director of Academic Services in the Ocean City, said his school district uses multiple measures when reviewing curriculum and will use the PARCC data to help understand strengths and gaps.
He said he could not speculate on the impact of students who did not take the test but will instead focus on the results.
School district officials received results in November and by now should have presented them at local school board meetings. Parents also should have received their children’s individual reports.
The statewide results, released last year, had prepared district officials for much lower passing rates than on the old state tests, the ASK and HSPA.