By ERIN ROLL
Montclair may be saying goodbye to the PARCC test if Gov. Phil Murphy moves ahead with a campaign promise.
In his campaign, the governor promised that New Jersey would eliminate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test as a graduation requirement.
“I’m not surprised,” Colleen Daly Martinez said. “I have never allowed my child to take PARCC. This will be her fourth year refusing.” She added, “I’m looking forward to refusing and looking forward to it not being here at all next year.”
Martinez said that over the past few years, a lot of people who were on the fence about whether to speak out against PARCC are feeling more empowered to do so. She referred to the tests as a “complete and utter waste of school time and teacher time. And student time.”
Board of Education President Laura Hertzog said on Monday, “I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that the PARCC has been a controversial test in Montclair and other parts of New Jersey.”
But, she said, if PARCC is phased out, a different, effective method of tracking student progress will be needed.
The BOE has yet to take an official stance on the governor’s remarks, Hertzog said, adding that the board is waiting to see more details on what a phasing out of PARCC would involve.
In a statement on Murphy’s campaign website, the governor said: “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.”
Montclair typically sees a large number of students opt out of taking the PARCC test each year, with an average of 40 percent to 50 percent of students opting out in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, it was reported that about three-quarters of students at Montclair High School excused themselves from taking the test.
New Jersey is one of a handful of states where the PARCC test is still in use. Currently, the state requires students from the class of 2021, the current freshman class, onwards to take the PARCC test, even if the student intends to graduate by submitting a student portfolio. For the Class of 2018, students have the option of being eligible to graduate by submitting PARCC scores, SAT or ACT scores or an alternate student portfolio.
Regina Tuma, of the advocacy group Montclair Cares About Schools, issued this statement in late January: “The PARCC exam was rushed into New Jersey classrooms by Governor Christie, at local expense to districts across New Jersey with no prior vetting for effectiveness or validity. As a high-stakes test that claimed to measure teacher effectiveness, it drove curriculum and made learning more like test prep.
“We look forward to rich curriculum and performance-based assessments developed by educators that have been shown to narrow achievement gaps while maintaining the integrity of learning for all New Jersey students.”