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State Assessment Name Change  

The State of New Jersey has ended its membership of the interstate consortium that produced the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. While the online platform will remain the same, the state’s mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments will no longer be called Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC).  

The statewide assessments for ELA and mathematics will be called:  

  • New Jersey Student Learning Assessments-ELA (NJSLA-ELA)  

  • New Jersey Student Learning Assessment-Mathematics (NJSLA-M)  

During the weeks of April 8 through May 28, 2019, the Princeton Public Schools will administer the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments to students in grades three through eleven. 

The New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) are aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS), which focus on critical thinking skills and students' ability to read, write, speak, listen and solve "real-world" problems independently. The standards were developed with the goal of ensuring all students are college and career ready and were internationally benchmarked to ensure students are academically competitive with their peers around the world. 

The New Jersey Student Learning Assessments are intended to mark students’ progress towards the stated goal of college and career readiness.  The assessments are also meant to provide feedback to the district regarding the efficacy of our current curriculum and instruction. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

When will my child take the NJSLA? 

Students will take the NJSLA during the weeks of April 8 through May 28, 2019. 
Week of April 8:  
PHS, Grades 9-11 
Week of April 15:  
John Witherspoon Middle School, Grades 6-8 
Week of April 17:  *Paper based testing only* 
Littlebrook, Grades 3-5 
Johnson Park, Grades 3- 5 
Community Park, Grades 3-5 
Riverside, Grades 3-5 
Week of April 29:  
Littlebrook, Grade 5 
Johnson Park, Grade 5 
Community Park, Grade 5 
Riverside, Grade 5 
Week of May 6:  
Littlebrook, Grades 3-4 
Johnson Park, Grades 3- 4 
Community Park, Grades 3-4 
Riverside, Grades 3-4 

Is NJSLA a graduation requirement? 

The answer is a qualified “yes.”  The New Jersey Department of Education announced that passing scores on designated NJSL assessments in English Language Arts and in Mathematics will be a graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2020.  Currently, for the classes of 2018 and 2019, students are allowed to use other standardized assessments to meet the requirement.  In the event that a student cannot meet the requirement with any of the allowed standardized tests, there is also a portfolio assessment option.  Please review the  list of standardized tests that the Department of Education accepts to meet the graduation requirement. 

Please know that our guidance counselors are prepared to work with all of our students to ensure they meet the graduation requirements.  Currently, students in the class of 2020 must take the NJSL assessment in both English Language Arts and Mathematics as outlined in the link above.  Also, as of now, students in the class of 2021 and beyond will need to take and pass NJSLA as described. 

The NJDOE has worked in collaboration with the State Board of Education and other stakeholders to develop proposed changes to Chapter 8, Standards and Assessment, of the administrative code. These proposed changes that are being considered by the State Board – addressing the number of required assessments in high school and the graduation assessment requirements – are summarized on the NJDOE Assessments website. The proposed changes have not been adopted and the current regulations remain in effect.  


What are the New Jersey Student Learning Standards?   How do they relate to NJSLA?   And will my child be prepared for the assessments? 

The Common Core Standards were developed by teachers and experts across the country and have been adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia. New Jersey recently revised the state standards with revisions to the Common Core Standards (CCS), now known as the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). 

As noted earlier, the standards were developed with the goal of ensuring all students are college and career ready and were internationally benchmarked to ensure students are academically competitive with their peers around the world.  At PPS, we have embraced the CCS and the NJSLS because they emphasize high-level problem solving, integrate literacy across content areas, and place a value on research, evidence-based interpretation of texts as well as visual media. 

Our teachers and administrators have worked to align our district curriculum to the new standards for the past several years, and our teachers and students have been working with them since 2010.  NJSLA is the assessment that has been specifically designed to measure student progress in the Common Core, but it is also aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Because of the work done by PPS teachers to meet the high-level learning expectations set forth by the standards in each classroom, we believe that our students are well prepared for the content and skills assessed through the NJSLA.  No additional NJSLA-specific “test prep” work, which takes time away from meaningful teaching and learning, is necessary or desirable. Stated simply: Good instruction leads to good test results.  

What value does the district see in the NJSLA? 

Over time, the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) have the potential to provide us with a record of progress for each student in meeting the state standards.  We believe multi-year results may also be valuable for parents to see their children's academic progress in reading, writing, and mathematics over time. 

Ideally, the assessments will aid us in evaluating not just our pupils but our programs as well. Valid assessment results over multiple years could give us a picture of the strengths of our curriculum and also insight into those areas in need of enhancement.  Unlike prior standardized tests, such as the NJ ASK and HSPA, the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) are designed to provide us with more specific details about the content that students should demonstrate in their responses to particular questions.  With three years of data, in areas where we had high participation, we are beginning to see how our students performed in a wide variety of areas relative to other students across the state and nation. This type of data, with sufficient participation, allows districts to drill down more deeply into the quality of their curriculum and instructional practices. 

Our students have generally responded well to the computer-based format of the PARCC assessments, which allows the tests to be more interactive and visual than the previous paper-and-pencil test.  The on-line format also has the capability of assessing students’ skills in important areas such as comprehending information from visual media such as video news clips.   

What we do know, and what we will continue to focus on throughout the school year, is that our children are known best through their daily contributions in the classroom, through their personalities and performances, and through their acts of kindness and compassion. We continue to be, nevertheless, hopeful that the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) longitudinal data will add to our array of multiple measures through which we strive to know every child - their strengths and needs, their unique talents and passions. 

How does PPS use the NJSLA results? 

According to the NJDOE, the stated purpose of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) is to measure students’ progress, both statewide and within local school districts, in English and Math from third grade through high school toward the identified goal of college and career readiness. In PPS, we are able to use these results to assess curriculum, inform instruction, and provide student support.  The assessments show specific areas of our curriculum where our students are performing particularly well and may also reveal those areas where we can bolster student understanding. In addition, we can use the results to assess the progress of individual students over time. The NJSLA is one measure among multiple measures that is used to identify students who need support through the district’s Accelerated Intervention Services (AIS) program.  

Currently, our ability to use the NJSLA results as a highly valid instrument of evaluation has been limited by the participation rate of our students. Since a significant number of students, particularly at the secondary level, refuse the test, it is difficult to draw valid district-wide conclusions about the overall performance of our programs and our students.  If our participation rate increases in the next few years, we will be able to glean better information about our students’ performance.  Please note that at this time, with the exception of the AIS program, we are not using New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) for placement decisions. 

Where can I find more information about my child's score reports from the 2018 PARCC assessment? 

  • Individual Student Records were mailed to families. 

  • For more information about the reports, please visit  Understand the Score.  

What are the protocols if I choose not to let my child take the NJSLA? 

In the Princeton Public Schools, we do not endorse parent refusal to have their children take the state-mandated assessments. Until we are told otherwise by the State Department of Education, NJSLA is a graduation requirement for students beginning with the class of 2020.  In addition, the tests provide us with some helpful information about students and programs at every level. Having your child take the NJSLA also provides an important opportunity for your child to experience this type of testing.  

We do recognize, however, that for those parents who choose not to have their child tested, a sensible, fair and child-centered set of protocols is in the best interest of all students. Clearly communicating those protocols in advance will avoid unnecessary confusion and misinformation as the testing dates approach. Our goal in outlining the following protocols is to minimize stress for children and families, to enable our schools to plan appropriately for space and other logistical considerations on the days of testing, and to enhance the smooth implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) that we are legally required to administer. 

Please keep in mind as you consider what is in the best interest of your child that currently passing the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) for Language Arts and Math at the high school level is a graduation requirement for all students who will be graduating in 2020 or beyond (as of 2/22/18).Taking the test in earlier grades helps students become familiar with the testing and allows teachers to analyze the results and improve curriculum and instruction. 

Protocols for test refusal are described below: 


  • Parents must submit a written statement or email TO THE BUILDING PRINCIPAL prior to the actual dates of testing in which they document their intention for their child not to take the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA). We strongly urge parents contemplating the submission of such a statement to do so by April 1, 2019 so that schools may plan accordingly. We encourage you to retain a copy of your written statement. Please understand that your early response will help our schools organize the needed technology, staffing and other resources needed. 




  • Children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent not to sit for NJSLA and who attend school on a NJSLA testing day will be marked present for the day. During the testing periods, those children will be located in a room separate from the “testing environment,” and will be asked to read or work independently and quietly while supervised by a staff member. The testing on most days will last between 80 and 180 minutes, depending upon the day and grade level, and we encourage those children not sitting for the test to bring a favorite book or other material to read during that time. 

  • Children whose parent(s) have NOT submitted a written statement of intent and who are not present on the day of the assessment will be marked absent and will sit for the NJSLA make-up test as scheduled. Similarly, children whose parent(s) have not submitted a written statement of intent and who arrive at school after the testing is completed, will be marked as tardy for the day and absent for the test. Those children will be required to sit for the NJSLA make-up test as scheduled. 

  • Children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent not to sit for NJSLA and who do not attend school during testing will be marked absent. Those children will NOT be required to sit for the NJSLA makeup test. The reason these children will be marked absent is because even though the NJSLA testing is taking place on that day, it is not the only activity occurring throughout the day. Similarly, children whose parent(s) have submitted a written statement of intent and who arrive at school after the testing will be marked tardy, although they will not be required to sit for the makeup NJSLA test. Thus, even if you choose for your child not to take the NJSLA, we encourage you to send your child to school on time on the testing days unless there is a verified reason not to (e.g., illness, doctor appointment).