Ever since PARCC was made mandatory for elementary and high school students there has been loud protest. With these protests there is the question of what does PARCC really mean for students? It is an assessment, it is a way to compare schools on state and national level; it is also a huge inconvenience for everyone involved.
For this reason Governor Murphy has made it a priority to remove PARCC testing in New Jersey: "The era of high stakes, high stress standardized tests in New Jersey must end, and I will see that it does. We must get back to the simple premise of letting teachers use classroom time to teach to their students' needs, and not to a test." Yet he could not stop the wave of PARCC that will be coming down on Monday. Still, many parents have decided to let their children to opt-out of testing in protest. So how will that affect those students’ academic future?
PARCC Hurts Even Students That Opt Out
First, those students gain little from opting out of PARCC as they lose the same amount of class time and education as the students who are taking the test. They still have to prepare for the test, which eats into their education time, as many parents and teachers have pointed out. They also lose the time that their classmates are taking the test. The PARCC Regular Administration runs from April 16th to the 27th , if the students are taking a paper exam. The testing can last as long as until May 25th for Regular Administration computer exams. That is anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of testing every day! No wonder there is protest!
Further, there is a risk of students not placing into advanced or honors programs if they opt-out of PARCC, depending on the school administration.
PARCC and Graduation Requirements
There is a ray of hope though. While PARCC remains a graduation requirement for the classes of 2018 and 2019, it is not the only path to graduation. It will be the only way for the classes of 2020 and 2021 to graduate, but Murphy is pushing for PARCC to end after this year. In fact Acting Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet issues a memo on March 6th discussing the next steps to separate New Jersey Schools from PARCC. The NJ Department of Education, the Governor and the Commissioner are putting all their efforts to see the end of PARCC as soon as possible.
PARCC Reporting on Schools
Another problem we have to deal with is the way PARCC reports on school performances. That problem is the complete inaccuracy of those reports. The students of East Brunswick High School, for example, are apparently terrible off track for success according to PARCC. Yet this school is ranked in the top 10% in all 402 New Jersey Public High Schools, according to Niche and received an A+ rating for college prep. In the previous year, 88% of EBHS students took college courses, 97% graduated, and 87% have enrolled in colleges. So why does PARCC say they have low accountability? Well because of how many students opted out of taking the exam.
What it all comes down to is the fact the PARCC is a best an inefficient system and ineffective test. For this reason, “the New Jersey Department of Education is committed to fulfilling the Governor's call to transition away from and to improve upon the current system of PARCC assessments," according to Commissioner Repollet.