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Appellate Court Strikes Down New Jersey’s PARCC Graduation Testing Rules

April 20, 2011 John de Rosier editorial cartoon

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey struck down the New Jersey Department of Education’s (DOE) regulations designating the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) end-of-course exams as the requirement for obtaining a high school diploma.

The Court held that the current rules violated provisions of the Proficiency Standards and Assessments Act (Act). This statute, enacted by the Legislature in 1979 and amended in 1988, authorizes the DOE to administer a single, eleventh-grade test in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics to determine proficiency under state curriculum standards for graduation.

“Even before the regulations were enacted in 2016, we urged the Department of Education to withdraw these rules because they clearly violate state law. Today’s ruling vindicates our position,” said ELC Senior Attorney Jessica Levin. “We are ready to work with the Commissioner, the State Board of Education and the Legislature to respond to this ruling in a manner that complies with governing law and reflects sound education policy.”

Key elements of the Court’s ruling include:

  • The current rules violate the Act because they require PARCC ELA 10, administered in tenth grade, and Algebra I, which may be taken in any high school grade or earlier, instead of an eleventh-grade graduation test.  The Court held that “to the extent the regulations required testing of non-eleventh-grade students, they are contrary to the Act and are invalid.”
  • Administering multiple end-of-course exams for graduation contravenes the Legislature’s intent that a single graduation test be administered to eleventh-grade students.
  • The regulations do not fulfill the Act’s mandate that students be provided retesting opportunities on the designated graduation test.
  • The Act requires the DOE to give students access to a non-standardized test as a graduation alternative. The Court ruled the Act “compels DOE to provide for alternative methods of assessing proficiency other than through PARCC testing or any other standardized testing process.”

“The court struck down a graduation testing regime that was unfair to students and their families,” said Jeanne LoCicero, ACLU-NJ Legal Director.” We look forward to working with the State on new regulations that will comply with the law and remove barriers that disproportionately burdened poor students and English language learners.”

The court made clear that while the DOE may decide what test to use, “the regulations violate the Act to the extent they specifically authorize multiple tests administered in grades other than the eleventh grade.” The Court stayed its judgment for 30 days to permit the DOE to seek further review by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The lawsuit challenging the regulations was brought by the Latino Action Network, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, the Paterson Education Fund, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and Education Law Center (ELC). The groups are represented by ELC and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ).

More information about this lawsuit is available from the Education Law Center.

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THE LEGISLATIVE IMPORTANCE OF PUSHING BACK AGAINST PARCC

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SARAH BLAINE | MARCH 20, 2017

The NJ Board of Education’s choice of PARCC as a HS graduation requirement is an overreach by the executive branch that the Legislature must correct

Sarah Blaine

On March 16, the New Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly passed ACR-215, which is a resolution declaring that the state Board of Education’s new regulations requiring students to pass the PARCC Algebra 1 and the 10th grade PARCC English Language Arts tests to graduate from high school are “inconsistent with legislative intent.”

The existing law requires a comprehensive 11th grade test (which these two PARCC tests, neither of which is generally administered in 11th grade, are not). The resolution will not stop New Jersey’s schools from having to offer PARCC each year, but if adopted by the state Senate as well, it is a step toward ensuring that students will not have to pass PARCC to graduate from high school.

With this resolution, the Assembly took the first step in one process by which our New Jersey legislators can check the authority of our governor and his appointees (in this case, the state Board of Education): invalidating regulations that our Legislature determines are “inconsistent with legislative intent.” In English, that means that if the Legislature passes a law, and the executive branch decides to ignore the law and do something different, the Legislature can tell the executive branch: “No, you’re wrong, please go back to the drawing board.” Because this is a check on the executive branch’s authority, the governor’s signature is not required.

As at least 180,000 New Jersey students demonstrated by refusing to take PARCC tests in 2015 and 2016, opposition to PARCC testing is widespread. But leaving the substantive issues surrounding the PARCC test aside, important as they are, ACR-215 and its senate companion resolution, SCR-132, are about governance.  That is, in considering these resolutions, the key question our legislators must decide is whether they are willing to allow Gov. Chris Christie and the Christie-appointed Board of Education to openly ignore New Jersey law.

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/17/03/19/op-ed-the-legislative-importance-of-pushing-back-against-parcc/

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State Releases PARCC Scores for Ridgewood Schools

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November 21,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,The Staate New Jersey released the latest PARCC standardized test results for every public school across the state on Wednesday, giving Ridgekwood parents a chance to see how their schools performed in math and English in grades 3-11.

Level 1: Not Yet Meeting Requirements
Level 2: Partially Meeting
Level 3: Approaching Expectations
Level 4: Meeting Expectations
Level 5: Exceeding Expectations

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PARCC test results explained

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BY MATTHEW SCHNEIDER

During Monday’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Assistant Superintendent Stacie Poelstra made a presentation about the performances of Ridgewood students in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.

She noted that Ridgewood did very well, explaining that the district’s students “far exceeded the cross state (the eight states that still partake in PARCC testing) and New Jersey’s passing grades.”

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/asst-superintendent-explains-parcc-results-1.1684115

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Ridgewood Parents Feel Ill Served by PARCC testing

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May 2,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ , Residents of school aged children are continuing to question concerned  a week of interrupted instruction because of the seemingly useless PARCC tests. 7 days of testing fro 8th graders to get a reading and a math score really? If our kids can take an SAT for college admission in under 3 hours, what is the State of NJ doing? Testing is not teaching!

Maybe this is another reason we have so many “PARCC refuseniks” the lengthy tests take to much away from learning time?

Many teachers think PARCC a waste of time and needs to be eliminated. Teachers know better than anyone the progress of their students better than any testing can determine. Education is a local issue ,state and federal mandates are in no way indicative of what children’s specific needs are in a specific school district.

We learned this from “No Child left behind” , when it had more of a negative impact  on a high performing district like Ridgewood .
The current PARCC tests seem to be pushing education to the lowest common denominator instead of encouraging individual growth and advancement.

Perhaps it’s time we move on from State mandated testing of any kind and truly get down to the business of educating students. Maybe if we didn’t lose all this time on nonsense like this we could focus on important things like civics, grammar, real math (not common core crap) .

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The low down on PARCC tests ,the good ,the bad and the ugly

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Frequently Asked Questions about the PARCC

1. Do parents have the right to opt their children out of the PARCC tests?

New Jersey does not have an “opt out” provision, but, as New Jersey State Board of Education President Mark Biedron pointed out at the January 7, 2015 State Board of Education meeting, “nobody can force a child” to take a test.(1)

On September 9, 2015, NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe sent a memo to school districts on how to accommodate students whose families or guardians refuse PARCC. He said “school districts should be prepared in the event that students choose not to participate in the assessment program and adopt policies and procedures for the appropriate supervision and engagement of these students during administration of the assessment. The specific policies adopted by school districts regarding students not participating in the assessment program are entirely within the school district’s discretion, in consideration of each district’s school environment and available staffing and resources and recognizing that a statewide rule could not take into account these local circumstances. However, in developing these policies, districts should be mindful of ensuring appropriate student supervision and creating alternative options for student activity during the test period, so long as the testing environment is not disrupted and, in this regard, a sit and stare policy should be avoided.”(2)

Districts and charter schools may not require that students who refuse the PARCC tests miss school on the days that their classmates are taking PARCC.

Last spring, more than 230 districts allowed students whose families refused the tests to read or take part in an alternative activity. Please email [email protected] to let us know how your district or charter schools is handling test refusals this spring.
back

http://www.saveourschoolsnj.org/parcc-faq/

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Standardized Tests like PARCC rob valuable instructional time from Ridgewood Students

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Tests rob valuable instructional time

To The editor,

The PARCC tests are scheduled to be administered in Ridgewood starting in April. Given that Governor Christie has clearly stated that the Common Core State Standards have been eliminated in New Jersey, and given the fact that the PARCC exams test close adherence to the Common Core State Standards, it is hard to understand how the New Jersey Department of Education could possibly expect any thinking person to permit his child to sit for these exams.

http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-letters-to-the-editor/ridgewood-news-letter-tests-rob-valuable-instructional-time-1.1526408

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Early takers say new SAT ‘wasn’t so bad’ and not so tricky

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BY JENNIFER C. KERR
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Not so tricky. More straightforward. Guessing allowed. The newly redesigned SAT college entrance exam that debuts nationally Saturday is getting good reviews from some of the students who took it early this week.

The new exam focuses less on arcane vocabulary words and more on real-world learning and analysis by students. Students no longer will be penalized for guessing. And the essay has been made optional.

The College Board says more than 463,000 test-takers signed up to take the new SAT in March, up slightly from a year ago.

Because the exam is new, the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT, has restricted the exam on Saturday to those applying to college or for scholarships, financial aid or other programs requiring a college test score. People who don’t fall into these categories have been rescheduled to take the May test, which will be released at a point afterward. The College Board said it took the action because of concerns about possible theft.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/early-takers-say-new-sat-wasn-t-so-bad-and-not-so-tricky-1.1522690

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Highest percentages of students who didn’t take exams were mostly from more affluent districts like Ridgewood

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February 23,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The PARCC exams will be soon be administered once again  but the state’s first experience with the controversial tests in 2015 continues to resonate, not just for the many students who took the tests but for the many students opted out.

The Christie administration can not provide data on exactly how many sat out the test in protest, maintaining that PARCC provided no way to count each student based on their motivation.  Students could have missed the tests for many different reasons including alternative tests .However more students missed the PARCC tests than for any previous standardized testing, led by those at the high-school level and the highest percentages of students who didn’t take exams were mostly from more affluent districts like Ridgewood .

Following is a list of the 10 high schools with the highest percentage of students absent for the various tests, also taking into account the size of the school and other data. ( http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/02/21/the-list-nj-schools-with-the-most-students-not-taking-the-parcc-testing/ )

1. Science Park High School

While this list is dominated by schools from the wealthier suburbs, Newark’s selective Science Park High School led the way in terms of percentages, with an active student group doing much of the organizing against the testing. Better than 9 in 10 students didn’t take the 10th-grade language arts tests and the Algebra II test.

2. Montclair High School

Right up the road, Montclair was a hotbed of the protest movement in a number of its schools. At the high school, 92 percent of 11th-graders didn’t take the language arts test, and 80 percent weren’t counted on any of the math tests.

3. Brick Memorial High School

This Monmouth County high school saw a large protest movement organized by parents. Just 8 percent of students took the Algebra II test, while only 16 percent took the 11th-grade language arts exam.

4. Morristown High School

Another case of 11th-graders skipping the test, in part because it was not required to graduate. Nearly 90 percent sat out the language arts, and 82 percent skipped the highest level math exam.

5. Princeton High School

The district got a lot of attention for its opt-out movement, and also saw juniors sitting out in large numbers. But the percentages dropped in the lower grades into the 60 percent-70 percent range, albeit still a majority of students.

6. Ramsey High School

Ramsey High School was among several northern Bergen County high schools to see high numbers of students not taking PARCC tests. Nine in 10 juniors didn’t take the language arts test, although the percentage dropped to just about half in ninth grade.

7. Westwood Jr./Sr. High School

This is another affluent district that saw a vocal protest movement. It has had many students who had other options for passing the high school graduation requirements. Of the school’s 11th-graders, 91 percent weren’t tested. The percentage not taking the exams dropped below 50 percent in ninth grade.

8. Pascack Hills High School

This was another Bergen County high school with high numbers who didn’t take the test. Interestingly, the percentages were not quite matched by its regional brethren at Pascack Valley High School. Pascack Hills saw 90 percent of 11th-graders not take the language arts test, while 75 percent didn’t take the Algebra II exam.

9. Livingston High School

This Essex County high school drew some media attention when its superintendent informed families of the process for sitting out the exams. In the end, 90 percent of 11th graders skipped the language arts test, although that dropped to 54 percent for ninth-graders.

10. (tied) Bernards High School, Montville High School, Ridgewood High School, Cherry Hill High School East and West Orange High School

These schools were the leaders among dozens of high schools where at least a half of the students sat out one PARCC test or another.

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As students opt out of state tests, authorities threaten to withhold funds

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DECEMBER 24, 2015    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2015, 1:21 AM
BY HANNAN ADELY
STAFF WRITER |
THE RECORD

The U.S. Department of Education, which has warned that it could cut, withhold or redirect federal funds where large numbers of students refuse to take standardized tests, has outlined steps to do just that in a letter sent to states this week.

Under federal law, states are required to test at least 95 percent of students, yet thousands of families refused to let their children participate in testing last spring in multiple states, including New Jersey, amid complaints that the tests were confusing, difficult and a drain on time and resources.

States that didn’t meet the mark both last year and this year could face one or more of three possible sanctions, according to the letter from Ann Whalen, acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

The federal government could withhold administrative funds for a Title I program, used mainly to help low-income schools; could put a specific Title I grant on “high-risk status”; or could withhold or redirect funds from the testing portion of a program called Title VI.

In New Jersey, education officials have long warned about potential federal cuts if too many students refuse to take state tests. David Saenz, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the most recent federal communication about testing did not state anything new.

“This letter further reiterates what they have said all along and now that they have data, there are actions they plan on taking,” he said.

Some educators and test opponents, however, have dismissed the warnings as empty threats.

The letter “is intended to coerce states into bullying parents and students into compliance,” said Julia Sass Rubin, a volunteer with Save Our Schools NJ.

The education department, she noted, did not take action when New York had opt-out rates of up to 20 percent last spring. She also said that the administrative funds are a “tiny percentage” of total federal funds.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/feds-detail-penalties-for-test-refusals-1.1479704