New Jersey Superintendent Defends PARCC Opt-Outs

new-jersey-state-flagJim O’Neill, the interim superintendent of the Livingston Public Schools system in New Jersey, wrote an op/ed in the New Jersey Spotlight taking the New Jersey Department of Education to task over how they are addressing students opting out of PARCC.

I am sorry to say the critics of “opt out” are either looking at PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) in a one-dimensional way or have engaged in an extremely shallow reading of the issues. Most of the high opt-out rates were in high-performing districts where thousands of students take the most rigorous courses along with multiple tests: PSAT, SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement. Do we really think that students heading to some of the most prestigious universities in the nation are afraid of taking one more test?

In spite of the clamor for a more rigorous test, a widely known fact in college admission offices is that the single best indicator of how a student will do in college is his/her high school grades. Yes, in spite of the dramatic differences in subject areas, teacher personalities, and grading practices, the most consistent predictor of how well a student will do in college is the student’s high school grades. But the state would have us believe the Chamber of Commerce and Pearson know better.

No one is afraid of a more rigorous program and more demanding assessment instruments. But rather than argue the validity of the test and the debatable ways the test results will be used, the DOE has decided not to engage in a discussion about the complexity of issues surrounding PARCC but to simply demean the conscientious objectors. For the first time ever we had tens of thousands of students opt out of a state test. When did we decide it is un-American or anti-intellectual to challenge the status quo? How do we know the questions raised are not legitimate?

Well said.  Unfortunately this has been the standard go-to response for those who support Common Core, PARCC and standardized testing in general.  Be sure to read the whole piece by O’Neill.