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Most New Jersey Parents Say Testing Too Taxing, Poll Finds

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poll released this week by the New Jersey Education Association found that most Garden State parents believe standardized tests are a detriment to their children's education.

Echoing a common refrain from parents nationwide, the poll found that most parents (71 percent) believe that too much emphasis is placed on standardized tests. It also found 77 percent of parents polled are concerned that testing "takes time and money from other educational priorities."

The state's largest teachers' union, along with the Washington, D.C.-based Mellman Group, conducted the two rounds of polling in December. The poll surveyed 1,000 people, including 400 parents. 

Most parents surveyed, or 78 percent, favored limiting the amount time students spend on assessments. An overwhelming majority of parents (82 percent) also believe lawmakers should pass a "parents' bill of rights" that would reveal how much money is spent on testing and detail how student test data is used. The so-called bill of rights would also provide parents with options to allow their children to skip state assessments. 

"We plan to work alongside parent groups to promote common-sense reforms to the state and federal testing regime in New Jersey," NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said on the group's website. "Parents must have the right to make decisions in the best interest of their children, even if that means refusing to participate in a test they recognize is harmful." 

The poll's results could serve as indicator of parents' moods as testing season is set to begin in New Jersey. The state will administer its new common-core-aligned assessments—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers— in March. By the way, the poll found that 60 percent believe parents should have a right to opt their children out of standardized tests.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Chris Christie's commission on the use of student assessments in the state issued an interim report on Dec. 31.

Among the recommendations was a suggestion that school districts conduct an inventory and analysis of their local assessment systems. That recommendation, along with another that asks the state to review which tests local districts are implementing, seems to cast a wider net on the assessment debate that expands beyond state-mandated tests. 

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