PARCC Delay Bill Advances in New Jersey Assembly

new-jersey-state-flagThe New Jersey Assembly Education Committee last week advanced a bill, A4190, on a 7-0 vote (2 not voting, one abstention) that would prohibit the New Jersey Department of Education from using the PARCC test to determine a student’s placement in a gifted and talented program, placement in another program or intervention, grade promotion, as the state graduation proficiency test, any other school or district-level decision that affects students, or as a component of any evaluation rubric submitted to the Commissioner of Education for three years beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

New Jersey Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) offered a statement about this action regarding PARCC.

Basically it’s a test; it’s an acronym standing for [Partnership for] Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, and it’s a test that’s now being given, beginning in the fourth grade through the eleventh grade. I think this is an example, sadly, of rolling something out too quickly: not getting the input of parents, teachers, professionals, before it was rolled out. And there’s just so much confusion about the test; lack of trust as to what the results of the test are going to be used for. And really, at this particular point, for lack of a better expression, it’s become a runaway train.

Obviously we are trying to, as a state and we should be, trying to assess our children’s readiness for college and careers as compared with other states. So the goal is good, but the implementation has been really awful.

First of all, there’s a huge issue concerning the technology turnover, because the test is taken on a computer. Most districts are not up to the standards required to take the test. The kids are confused even how to use the computers, the scrolling down, I’ve heard all of those particular issues. But I think that issue is addressable just simply by taking the test. Over time, that issue will resolve itself,”

The nature of the questions; they are confusing. I’ve taken a test myself, the methodology in which they require the kids to use to reach the appropriate answer.

And then there is the time in class that is taken up. I mean the test is administered twice and there is an awful lot of concern about quote, unquote ‘working towards the test results,’ which is not healthy.”

I am not anti-standardized test, and I think that’s important for everyone to realize. We have to have some kind of benchmarks upon which we can gauge our children. The purpose of today’s hearings, we have two bills: one which will allow parents to opt out if they feel strongly that their children should not be taking the test; and the second is to delay implementation of the results of the test for three years. So, we would administer the test for three years, but during that period of time it would really be a pilot program to see what’s right about it, what’s wrong about it and to deal with the issues so then it can be a reliable gauge.

So really, it’s just, in my mind, imperative we take a time out; let’s put everybody back on the same page. Because if we have lack of trust in our educational process, then we have a real challenge to our entire democracy, in my mind. So, during my time in Trenton, this is as important an issue as I have seen.

The New Jersey Assembly Education Committee is also considering a parental opt-out bill – A4165, but was slated only for discussion.