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Controversy Over New Jersey Requiring Students To Pass Standardized Test To Get Diploma

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There is controversy swirling over a new graduation requirement for New Jersey high school students.

CBS2's Meg Baker reported that starting in 2021, they will need to pass a standardized test to get their diploma, but that requirement may be against the law.

Parents are upset students will need to pass a PARCC test, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

"I'm concerned that the test scores don't really reflect what kids are learning," Montclair parent Colleen Martinez said.

The state decided Wednesday there will be no more opting out.

"I'm pleased to report that the preliminary results for the 2015-16 school year show positive gains in math and English language arts," Gov. Chris Christie said.

However, more than 50 percent did not score high enough to get a diploma.

"I'm saying to the governor: Please stop this crusade for PARCC. Give our children fairness in schools. We have an excellent school system. Let's keep it that way," said Chris McGoey of Save Our Schools NJ.

The Education Law Center and the ACLU of New Jersey said the Board of Education is acting outside its authority and that a law must be passed by the legislature to change graduation requirements.

"I don't think that PARCC is useful," Martinez said. "My kid has always had great experiences with teachers being able to assess how she's doing."

New Jersey has been requiring standardized tests for a couple of years, but students had choices. The SAT and ACT will no longer be accepted as an alternative to the PARCC for graduates.

Once PARCC is the only option, students who fail can retake the test, and those who still fail can submit a portfolio appeal that substitutes graded classwork and other academic achievements for test scores.

The New Jersey Education Association said the requirement will disproportionately harm students with disabilities and students living in poverty.

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