Piperno, Eulner Criticize Costly and Ineffective Start Strong Testing Requirement


Today, Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno and Kim Eulner strongly opposed a fourth year of state-run Start Strong testing, citing concerns about its relevance, utility, and the estimated multi-million-dollar cost of its administration. Instead, the Monmouth County legislators argued that the funds would be better spent on other initiatives that would benefit students and their families.

“The pandemic has had devastating and long-term consequences for our student’s physical and mental health, resulting in a significant learning loss,” said Assemblywoman Piperno. “The Start Strong testing program is an expensive, one-size-fits-all approach that does not address the underlying issues of underfunding and does not reflect the reality of our schools today.”

In 2020, Governor Murphy rolled out the Start Strong program as an option for local education agencies to use in the fall of that year in response to the COVID pandemic. By 2021, the Department of Education made Start Strong mandatory to fulfill Federal testing requirements, replacing the canceled Spring 2021 New Jersey Student Learning Assessment.

Added Piperno, “Until we repeal S2 and provide our schools with the necessary resources, our students will continue to suffer the consequences of an underfunded education system. We must invest in our students and their families, not in redundant teststing.”

Opponents of Start Strong have long argued that the amount of standardized testing required for students to graduate each school year is excessive. Moreover, with some districts scheduling tests for their students nearly every month, excessive testing can overwhelm students and teachers alike.

“By retesting skills already assessed four months ago, we neglect our students’ academic needs and cause a heavy burden of educational demands that have contributed to the current mental health crisis. This has to stop,” declared Assemblywoman Eulner.

“We should redirect the millions of dollars allocated for this test towards increasing access to educational services, hiring new teachers and staff, and providing additional student support services. Our students are the future, and it is time that we invest in them.”

The Assemblywomen further proposed to allow districts to use their own assessment tools, giving teachers and administrators greater autonomy to evaluate their student body effectively and efficiently, providing more insight into student performance and quicker response to their needs.

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