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There’s good reason to opt out of PARCC


MAY 8, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2015, 12:31 AM

There’s good reason to opt out

To the editor:

On April 2, all district parents received from our Superintendent of Schools a status update on the first round of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) testing.

The letter tallies the students whose parents refused the PARCC tests (opting out is not technically an option): 1,135 out of a total of 4,111 students, or nearly 28 percent. The refusal rate for grades 3-8 was over 11 percent.

In line with NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe’s recent threats, the letter states that Ridgewood Public Schools may suffer ill effects as a result, including losing federal grant money and losing our status as a high-performing school district.

The letter does not mention that no district has ever lost federal grant money as a result of low participation, nor does it question why a brand-new assessment should carry such weight in terms of evaluating our district’s schools.

I, along with no doubt all Ridgewood residents who are shouldering 95 percent of the $101 million school budget via property taxes, wish to maintain Ridgewood’s status as a high-performing district. I do not think that the way to do this is to sit by as corporate-led reform, the stated goal of which was to create a “national uniform market” for standardized tests and prep materials, attempts to convert our public schools into profitable test factories without corresponding benefit to students.

We’ve always had standardized tests. However, the low-stakes, sporadic CAT and Terra Nova tests took up a fraction of instruction time as compared to the high stakes, annual standardized testing that began in 2001 with NJ ASK under NCLB.

PARCC and PARCC test prep take excessive standardized testing to a new level.

Further, like other standardized test results, PARCC scores will not tell teachers what they don’t already know. The delay in receiving them exacerbates this: Results from the March testing won’t be out until October 2015 at the earliest. Relying on such data for student placement or special needs or anything else seems more than a bit delayed.

The bottom line is, as Dr. Fishbein stated in an op-ed piece last summer, ever-increasing state mandates including PARCC are objectionable because they displace instruction time and shunt teachers into offices and behind desks to fill out reports and pore over data.

Many parents agree and are acting, in a lawful and respectful way, to try to roll back the intrusion of corporate “reformers” and politicians under their influence in the classroom.

I understand that Commissioner Hespe has directed administrators to encourage participation in PARCC. The Department will view such attempts as a “mitigating factor” in how districts with high non-participation rates are evaluated, as Commissioner Hespe stated at an April 29 hearing in Trenton.

At the same hearing, the Commissioner claimed not to understand why parents are refusing permission. Rather than merely carrying out the Commissioner’s directives, our administration would serve us well by helping to explain that to him and the Department publicly.

Anne Burton Walsh


3 thoughts on “There’s good reason to opt out of PARCC

  1. PARCC is nothing but a money grab for the corporation behind it.

  2. PARCC is nothing more than a power grab and “IQ distribution scheme” by the federal government

  3. it is rare that parents, teachers, students and local administrators are so aligned.

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