Assembly Approves Bill to Delay PARCC Test

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

The Assembly voted 63 to 7 to delay the PARCC test by three years. It could still be given but it wouldn’t count in student or teacher evaluation until the 2018-2019 school year.

Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan is leading the effort to slow PARCC down.

“We put the cart before the horse. We rolled this out way too quickly. We haven’t considered the issues concerning special needs kids, the technology, on and on and on across the board. So it’s my hope that we could really just basically use this three-year period to get the train back on track,” he said.

The PARCC test has provoked backlash in New Jersey, so much so that the effort to slow it down has united Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

“This sends a sound message to parents and the children that we get that there’s concerns, we’re slowing the carousel down and we’re gonna try to address how we’re going to be administering PARCC. PARCC very well may be a very good test for us to be using, but there’s so much anxiety coming out of parents and the students on how we’re administering it,” said Assemblyman David Rible, an Education Committee member.

The arguments against PARCC are that preparing for it takes too much time away from normal instruction, requires computer literacy of even third-graders and is basically too difficult.

But not all legislators want to slow it down.

“Some local school districts are talking about using some aspect of these tests to help guide a student’s education going forward. If they’re weak in an area, you’d think parents would want to know that. But this isn’t going to condemn students. This isn’t gonna have anything to do with graduation until 2019. Everyone needs to calm down,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.

About 30 districts started PARCC testing last week. Many more will start next Monday. They’re supposed to be used to determine who’s ready for advanced placement or gifted and talented programs. And 10 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would come from student test scores, which is one reason why the NJEA supports the effort to delay.

“We’re joining with parents and teachers everywhere, not just here in New Jersey. Around the country there’s a movement that’s really taking hold. People are really concerned about the impact of high stakes testing, the cost — not just the financial cost of buying all this technology to take the test, but also the cost in instructional time,” said NJEA Director of Communications Steve Wollmer.

One lawmaker said privately the politics on this are easy — you vote to slow down PARCC. The policy, he said, is another question. The issue now goes to the Senate.