Murphy announces plan to phase out PARCC tests in New Jersey

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey will begin phasing out a controversial standardized test, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

Murphy spoke in Atlantic City and said that his administration is proposing a number of changes for the upcoming school year, including that the number of PARCC tests required for graduation fall from six to two. The two tests that would be kept are language arts and algebra, the first-term governor said.

He also said the length of testing would be reduced by 25 percent and the weight of the tests on teacher evaluations would be reduced.

He stopped short of nixing the test entirely, but suggested that's what he wants to do. He said during the campaign last year that he would do away with the text.

"The goal is to get to a place that we think that that is acceptable," he said. "That isn't today. I still don't like it and I'm not going to wake up some day and become a fan of PARCC."

Murphy criticized the exams as "high stakes and high stress," echoing critiques from parents, teachers, students and organized labor.

He said the changes came after the state Department of Education conducted a two-month tour across all 21 counties in the state.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a consortium of states that developed the tests, which came online as part of a Common Core curriculum in 2015.

Some lawmakers met Murphy's decision with praise. Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said the decision moves the state in the right direction.

Other groups disagreed. Better Education for Kids, which began as a group aimed at supporting Republican Gov. Chris Christie's education policies, and the nonprofit group JerseyCAN issued a statement questioning Murphy's decision.

"Eliminating tests is a disservice to vulnerable student populations and communities. We need a tool to determine if we are meeting the needs of minority and economically disadvantaged children as compared to students in affluent communities," said Better Education for Kids executive director Shelley Skinner.

JerseyCAN executive director Patrician Morgan said tests help determine the steps the state should take to help students.

Murphy said more information about the next stage in the phase-out would become available over "the next few months."