Should State Testing be Required for Graduation?

Many questions are on the horizon after new state test.

Students took the NJGPA on school-provided Chromebook laptops.

Lucas Marin

Students took the NJGPA on school-provided Chromebook laptops.

Many students and parents are disappointed about a new state test required to graduate high school. Students will be denied graduation diplomas if they do not pass the New Jersey Proficiency Assessment. 

  

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy suspended all state testing for the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic, but now it is back. Students all over New Jersey were required to complete the NJGPA during the week of Mar. 14. The Class of 2023 is the first graduating class that will be required to pass this exam. According to the Education Law Center, The New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA) requires students to pass with a score of 750 or higher. In total there were four days of testing consisting of Algebra I and II, Geometry, and Language Arts. Towards the end of the Language Arts assessment, students were asked to write an essay. Students had 90 minutes to complete each section.  

 

 The last time state tests were given was during the 2019 school year. Juniors had to complete the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA).  Administrations used the results of that assessment to create the NJGPA and to predict the passing rates of the exam, according to Education Law Center. The results from previous state testing are seen below: 

 

NJSLA passing percentages for KHS juniors in 2019.

 The million-dollar question looms: Should state testing count towards graduation? There are a number of views pertaining to this question.   

 

Kinnelon High School’s World Language teacher Jamely White said, “The NJGPA should not count, with the whole year being virtual last year students may have forgotten what they learned. The gap from freshman to junior year is a lot as students missed last year due to Covid. This is extremely stressful on the students.”

 

If there is a world where state testing doesn’t count towards one’s graduation, what other requirements could replace testing? This has been widely debated throughout Kinnelon as well as the whole state. White explained, “Other contributions should be required for graduation. Community service should definitely be required for graduation. This makes people better and makes you contribute to society. The goal of school is to prepare students for the real world and be productive members of society. Adding community service would certainly help that.”

 

The graduation requirement of the assessment has made high schoolers overwhelmed. Many Kinnelon students have had plenty of thoughts and opinions on the matter. Junior Ilya Klevtsov said, “I think there are better ways to determine if a student is ready for graduation because most feel that their graduation and future right now solely depends on algebra, geometry, and English, which doesn’t sit well with me.” 

 

Klevtsov prefers other graduation requirements rather than the NJGPA. “In life, we may never know when something we learn in school or other places will become useful, after all, there is no way of telling the future. Introducing more life skills as requirements for graduation would be logical. For example when we graduate we have no preparation on how to take care of taxes and bills.” Klevtsov favors students studying things that adults face on a daily basis like taxes rather than state testing. 

 

Many people within the realm of state testing have conflicted views, Deb Bradley, who organized the NJPSA told NorthJersey.com “The NJGPA as a graduation test would create inequity. Bradley is an advocate for assessments for students; however, she stated, “it is not fair for those returning to school with heightened anxiety and less resilience to have to take an exit test.” 

 

As it stands, the NJGPA does count on students’ ability to graduate. However, due to the negative traction the exam has been getting, legislation branches are passing the bill to drop the requirement. The bill has to get to Governor Murphy’s desk as he has to approve it; he is the final straw for the exam not counting.