Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal last week that describes teachers and parents speaking out against Common Core and PARCC at a public hearing last week in Jersey City, NJ.
Speaker after speaker told a state commission at the hearing that the new online tests would eat up too much class time, be too hard, hurt students’ self esteem and waste taxpayer money. The exams in math and language arts will cover public-school students from third to 11th grade.
Three members of the panel, including state Education Commissioner David Hespe, said in an interview before the hearing that the tests had the potential to offer rich data on how to help students learn, and families should give them a chance.
But parents and teachers expressed serious doubts. Colleen Martinez, a Montclair mother and university lecturer with a doctorate in social work, said she recently took a practice test online for the new third-grade math test. She said the questions were convoluted and unintuitive. “I literally could not determine an answer to most questions,” she said. “When I did have an answer I then had a hard time figuring out how to enter it” using the test’s interface, she said.
Forty-five people signed up to speak at the hearing, the first of three held by the commission appointed last summer by Republican Gov.Chris Christie to address concerns about testing. Five of the nine panel members attended Wednesday’s hearing; another one is scheduled for Thursday in Jackson. The panel is to submit a report in June.
The new tests are designed to reflect the Common Core, tougher standards for what children should learn in each grade that have been adopted by most states.
The New Jersey Education Association says the exams spur too much test preparation and narrow the curriculum, and the teachers union fought a 2012 law that ties some teachers’ evaluations partly to student test scores. In July, the Christie administration said that for the 2014-15 school year, student growth on state tests would count for only 10% of evaluations for teachers in tested grades and subjects, down from 30%. The union wants legislation giving parents the right to have children skip statewide tests.