Why Chris Christie Raised the Stakes for PARCC in New Jersey

Chris Christie in Des Moines, IA during his run for president.Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Chris Christie in Des Moines, IA during his run for president.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie raised the stakes on standardized assessments, in particular PARCC, in the state of New Jersey. During a stop at a local middle school Christie was asked why.

New Jersey 101.5, a local radio station, reports what he said.

Under a 2012 law, standardized test scores are considered in assessing teachers. It originally counted for 30 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, but it was temporarily lowered to 10 percent after the first PARCC administration stirred strong opposition and a wave of parents opting their children out of taking the exams. But Christie said “everyone’s now adjusted” to the PARCC and that it’s time to restore the exam’s weight in assessing teachers.

“That’s 30 percent. That means 70 percent of a teacher evaluation is not on test scores,” Christie said. “In-classroom observation, children’s grades and progress are 70 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Thirty percent is the objective test. I think that’s an appropriate weighting.”

“I think that’s a fair way to evaluate teachers,” Christie said. “Test scores have to play some role in it. And they do. They play a minority role.”

The New Jersey Education Association criticized the Christie administration for boosting the PARCC-dependent share of evaluating teachers, though the 2012 teacher-tenure law says the weighting is to be decided each year by Aug. 31 by the Department of Education. The NJEA is urging the Legislature to change the law giving the administration that latitude.

What Christie is doing is further entrenching Common Core into New Jersey schools. It’s amazing how much is being put at stake – student graduations and teacher evaluations – for any standardized assessment, let alone one that is hardly reliable.