And that raises a core question for opponents of this test, and all those who boycotted it: Would New Jersey somehow be better off not knowing these facts? To ask that question is to answer it. The notion is absurd.
The PARCC test, unlike earlier standardized tests, is designed to help teachers and principals identify exactly where kids are learning, and where they are struggling. That can help educators tailor their lessons to be more effective.
It also allows states to compare their performance to other states, with an apples to apples measure. Under the current system, each state offers its own tests. That allows them to claim success when their only real accomplishment is to lower the bar to artificially boost scrores. That’s known as the “honesty gap” which many educators, and leaders like former Gov. Tom Kean, have decried.
Perhaps most important, these tests could be an important tool in the fight to close the achievement gap between black and white students, which stubbornly persists in New Jersey — not just between cities and suburbs, but within racially mixed, suburban towns like Montclair. How can we fix that problem if we can’t measure it?
Those who boycotted this test undermined those efforts. Yes, the resistance to testing is understandable, and many educators agree that the load has grown too large. But creative districts are finding ways to cope with that, like eliminating some of their own tests in favor of the PARCC exams, which offers this more authoritative evaluation.
And remember: Those who boycott the tests are affecting more than their own children. They are sabotaging the data for all children in New Jersey.
First it’s debatable whether the data will produce any meaningful results. Wasn’t this what we were told when No Child Left Behind passed? Did we see any significant changes in the quality of public K-12 education? Second, if opting out “sabotages” the data – by all means keep it up!
The Star-Ledger editorial board obviously cares more about data mining than they do parental rights.