After Gov. Christie Christie and Commissioner of Education David Hespe held a press conference to discuss this year’s PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test scores, the state’s largest teachers’ union called the expensive standardized tests, which are administered by a private, for profit company, a waste of time and resources.
“This is the second year that the PARCC assessment has been administered in New Jersey and with this second year of testing we can now begin to see more accurate trends and results,” said the Republican Governor. “I’m pleased to report that the preliminary results for the 2015-16 school year show positive gains in math and English language arts.”
Despite that apparent improvement in test scores, the PARCC itself remains deeply flawed, overly time consuming and a financial burden on many schools districts, according to Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, in response to the Governor’s press conference.
“We don’t need a costly, controversial high-stakes test to tell us what we already know. New Jersey’s schools perform at a very high level, and students living in poverty have greater challenges than their wealthier peers,” said Steinhauer. “The State Board of Education’s plan to adopt PARCC as a graduation requirement at its Aug. 3 meeting—making New Jersey one of only two states to do so—will disproportionally harm students with disabilities and students living in poverty.”
“PARCC should not be used as a graduation requirement,” said Steinhauer. “PARCC will prove only to waste time and resources for students and schools as they near graduation. Instead of investing huge amounts of time and money in a test that doesn’t tell us anything new, the state should direct all of that effort and investment toward helping the students who need it most.”
“New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer hit the nail on the head, calling PARCC tests a waste,” said Lisa McCormick. “Americans should not be forced to spend inordinate sums of money on an arbitrarily priced exam when we have the ability to develop more accurate measures of success within the public domain.”
“More importantly, the PARCC tests have flaws beyond their costs, because testing cannot identify what is wrong with our most persistent failing schools,” said McCormick. “We need to take better care of children who suffer depressed economic conditions, violence and poison water supplies or they will be doomed to miss out on education and all that it can do for them. These children are easy for some people to ignore, but they will grow up whether we invest in making them productive members of society or not.”
“Common sense and compassion align on this,” said McCormick. “These children are our future, so we owe them a much better life and we will suffer in old age if we fail to make that happen.”
“Problems with PARCC have become public nationwide,” said McCormick. “Since the beginning of this unproven testing program two years ago, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have dropped their participation. New Jersey is among only a handful of states still participating.”
“I know that the members of the Department of Education who have taken a lot of heat about PARCC stood up. They did their homework,” said Christie.”They gave me the best information I could give to transmit to the public, but most importantly they worked with the educational community, teachers and principals and parents in this state to give them confidence in PARCC.”
Dr. Thomas Kerins, the former head of testing for the Illinois State Board o f Education, said his state has taken a good first step with the replacement of the PARCC test at high school with the new SAT test.
“President Barack Obama’s new Testing Action Plan calls for a reexamination of the way tests are used in schools,” explained Kerins. “The president said students ‘should only take tests that are worth taking — tests that are high quality, aimed at good instruction, and make sure everyone is on track, testing shouldn’t take up too much classroom time, and the assessments should be one tool in a more complete toolbox to help schools get an indication of student progress and school and school improvement.”
Stan Karp, director of the Secondary Reform Project of the Newark-based Education Law Center, called on lawmakers to take some action to pressure the DOE to allow this year’s senior class to graduate without having to pass a standardized test.
Karp called the department’s decision to make passing PARCC a graduation requirement both “illegal and unfair.”
The British company Pearson, which makes about 60 percent of its profits in the U.S., is its outsized influence over state and federal lawmakers on education policy. Critics claim Pearson’s wealth — it made about $6 billion in revenue last year — too often goes unmatched.
Pearson’s lobbying, sales and marketing influence has been well documented — especially in a 2015 Politico investigation that found: “Pearson has aggressive lobbyists, top-notch marketing and a highly skilled sales team. Until the New York attorney general cracked down in late 2013, Pearson’s charitable foundation made a practice of treating school officials from across the nation to trips abroad, to conferences where the only education company represented was Pearson.”
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!