- Senator RuizChairman of the Senate Education Committee
- Assembly DiegnanChairman of the Assembly Education Committee
- Chris ChristieGovernor, New Jersey
- David HespeCommissioner of Education
End PARCC and Common Core in NJ
Enough is Enough. We need to let our elected official know that we have had enough of Common Core and PARCC.
- Governor of New Jersey
- Chairman of the Senate Education Committee
- Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee
- Governor, New Jersey
- Commissioner of Education
I have grave concerns regarding the memo issued on October 30, 2014 regarding student participation in the PARCC assessments.
In your memo you state the following:
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires schools with students in grades three through twelve to demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In order to make AYP, a school must ensure that assessments have been taken by at least ninety-five percent (95%) of enrolled students in each subgroup, i.e., special education, English language learners, low income, race/ethnicity. Federal funding of key education programs is dependent upon districts meeting this requirement.
It seems you have omitted critical information in your statement. The assertion that “federal funding of key education programs is dependent upon districts meeting this requirement” pertains to schools receiving Title I funds - federal dollars used by schools that have a substantial proportion of low-income students.
Under NCLB, a school that fails to make AYP for two years must set aside up to 15% of its Title I federal funds to use for transporting volunteer students to a non-failing school…If a school does not make AYP for three years, it must put aside up to 15% of its Title I funds for ‘supplemental educational services’ (‘tutoring’). The 15% funds are not available for regular school use….Schools that do not receive federal Title I funds are exempt from sanctions under NCLB. Those schools are labeled as not making AYP, but NCLB does not require a state to do anything to them” (http://www.fairtest.org/why-you-can-boycott-testing-without-fear).
However, this is really a moot point as New Jersey filed for and was granted a NCLB waiver (http://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/nclb/waiver/). Under the NCLB waivers issued by the US Department of Education, AYP requirements no longer apply (http://www.fairtest.org/why-you-can-boycott-testing-without-fear). It appears, Acting Commissioner Hespe, you are manipulating the facts in order to make parents fearful that funding to their schools will be cut if they choose to refuse to allow their children to participate in PARCC.
You also put forth the statement:
…State law and regulations require all students to take State assessments. For the 2014-2015 school year, the PARCC assessment will replace the prior statewide assessments - the NJASK in grades 3-8 and HSPA in high school; as such, all students shall take the PARCC assessment as scheduled.
The State may have the authority to “require” districts to administer these tests. However, let me be quite clear; neither the local school district, nor the State, nor the federal government has the authority to “require” my children to take this test. That authority, the authority to guide my children’s education as I see fit, is not only guaranteed to me by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States but is also stipulated in Federal Code (www.gpo.gov):
United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 20 - EDUCATION
CHAPTER 48 - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
SUBCHAPTER I - GENERAL PROVISIONS
SUBCHAPTER I—GENERAL PROVISIONS
§3401. Congressional findings
The Congress finds that—
(3) parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, and States, localities, and private institutions have the primary responsibility for supporting that parental role;
In addition, the Supreme Court has time and again upheld parents’ rights to govern their children’s education (http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000075.asp). I find it difficult to believe that the State would stand in opposition of a parent’s Constitutional right or decisions upheld by the Supreme Court.
Next, you point out:
Since the PARCC assessment is part of the State required educational program, schools are not required to provide an alternative educational program for students who do not participate in the statewide assessment. We encourage all chief school administrators to review the district’s discipline and attendance policies to ensure that they address situations that may arise during days that statewide assessments, such as PARCC, are being administered.
It is my children’s right as public school students to receive instruction daily. Are you advocating that my school district deny my children’s rights to come to school and receive daily instruction? That cannot possibly be what you are asking districts to do, Acting Commissioner Hespe. My children will attend school every day during the testing window, and I expect my children to be provided with alternative meaningful learning activities during testing times. It also seems that you are asking school districts to enact punitive policies against students because the parent has made the choice to refuse. Again, are you advocating that my children be punished because I am exercising my Constitutional rights? I would hope not. In regards to attendance policies, it is my understanding that students who are absent on test days are not to be marked absent from school, but absent from the test. Are you directing school districts to “review” their attendance policies to incorporate truancy or delinquency violations for students who are absent during testing time? Again, I hope that is not what you are suggesting.
In regards to your next claim,
Throughout a student’s educational career, the PARCC assessments will provide parents with important information about their child’s progress toward meeting the goal of being college or career ready. The PARCC assessments will, for the first time, provide detailed diagnostic information about each individual student’s performance that educators, parents and students can utilize to enhance foundational knowledge and student achievement. PARCC assessments will include item analysis which will clarify a student’s level of knowledge and understanding of a particular subject or area of a subject. The data derived from the assessment will be utilized by teachers and administrators to pinpoint areas of difficulty and customize instruction accordingly. Such data can be accessed and utilized as a student progresses to successive school levels.
I am truly amazed at how you seem able to classify PARCC as a diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment all rolled into one. Years of research has demonstrated the distinct role each type of assessment plays in education. Yet, according to your statement, PARCC seems to defy educational research and practice. You claim, “The PARCC assessments will, for the first time, provide detailed diagnostic information about each individual student’s performance.” An effective diagnostic assessment assesses a student’s knowledge beforehand. So, why is PARCC administered in March and April with only 4 months left in the school year? To be an effective diagnostic assessment results must be immediately available to teachers. So, why are the results not given to a teacher until 6 months later, after a new school year has already begun? It seems that the reality of PARCC fails to mean the criteria of what a diagnostic assessment truly is. Strike 1. You also claim “The data derived from the assessment will be utilized by teachers and administrators to pinpoint areas of difficulty and customize instruction accordingly.” By definition this is what a formative assessment is supposed to do. So again, I ask you why are these tests administered at the end of the year and why are the results not made available until the beginning of the next school year. It seems that PARCC fails to meet the criteria for a formative assessment as well. Strike 2. Finally, you seem to assert “the PARCC assessments will provide parents with important information about their child’s progress toward meeting the goal of being college or career ready.” A summative assessment does, in fact, measure if a student has attained a goal at the conclusion a unit of study. Unfortunately, some doubt exists as to whether or not PARCC is effective:
This question goes to the heart of one of the biggest issues causing uneasiness in the assessment consortia right now: how colleges and universities can verify that the achievement levels on the PARCC and Smarter Balanced exams are predictive of good performance on entry-level credit-bearing college courses….
But the trouble with that is the colleges and universities want to know sooner than that if they can rely on the "college-ready" cut scores to reflect real readiness for the rigors of college coursework. Consortium insiders are discussing other kinds of research that could be done earlier in the game to validate those cutoff levels.
In response to Huppenthal's question yesterday, Nellhaus had this to say: "To be candid, we don't know yet. We need to do the research." Massachusetts Commissioner Mitchell Chester, the chairman of PARCC's governing board, said the group will gather "empirical evidence" validating the college-readiness cutoff levels, not only by tracking students into college, but by other means, such as administering the test to college freshmen (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/06/parcc_approves_test_performance_level_descriptions_by_grade_subject.html).
Strike 3-you’re out.
And let us not neglect the issue of “data collection.” The PARCC assessment reaches far beyond the collection and reporting of “academic data”:
In 2010, the US Department of Education signed contracts with two national test development groups to provide student-level data on each child who takes a Common Core reading and math test. Then in 2011, these same Federal bureaucrats changed the FERPA regulations to allow the sharing of up to 400 student and family “data sets” without parental consent. These data are being compiled in huge government and corporate databases to be “shared” with various government agencies, contractors, researchers and vendors. The FERPA privacy laws to protect student and family data were changed without Congressional authorization. (http://kansansagainstcommoncore.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/common-core-testing-opt-out-faq-8-8-13.pdf)
In signing the NCLB waiver, the State has promised to devise and implement a data collection system: NJ SMART Education Data System (http://www.state.nj.us/education/njsmart/). In signing the NCLB waiver you have promised to provide access not just my children’s test scores, but to my children’s private personal data as well. Acting Commissioner Hespe, this underhanded violation of my children’s privacy is unacceptable.
Since the State has made their position very clear, allow me to make my position very clear. On behalf of my children, I REFUSE to allow them to participate in PARCC.
I am taking this step because I refuse to support the ill-contrived public education reform propagated through Common Core and high-stakes testing.
I oppose the manipulative policies and mandates devised by policymakers and corporations that forced the illegitimate implementation of Common Core and imposed high-stakes standardized testing.
I oppose the harvesting and selling of student data and the use of high-stakes test scores for purposes for which they were never intended.
I oppose the agendas of profit-seeking corporations like Pearson who have created a multi-billion dollar system of profiting off student failure and who have bullied their way into the classrooms, forcing their ideas of curriculum into instruction, thus taking away the teacher’s authority to make decisions about what is instructionally appropriate or relevant.
I oppose the damage that Common Core and high-stakes tests are inflicting on our students, cultivating within students anxiety and a fear of failure rather than igniting a passion for life-long learning.
I oppose the damage that Common Core and high-stakes tests are inflicting on our teachers, stripping teachers of their instructional authority and minimizing teacher competency and efficiency to single set of data points that in actuality reveal nothing about a teacher’s ability to transform students’ lives.
I oppose the damage that Common Core and high-stakes tests are inflicting on our curriculum, over-emphasizing test prep to the point where students cannot think outside of the bubble.
I oppose the damage that Common Core and high-stakes tests are inflicting on our schools, diverting the appropriation of millions of tax-payer dollars to testing infrastructure at the expense of educational staff, support services, extra-curricular activities, and programs in foreign languages, the arts, and sciences.
I oppose the damage Common Core and high-stakes tests are inflicting on the quality of public education as a whole, transforming the idea of education as something that expands your horizons into something that is standardized, finite, and measured by the content of a standardized test.
I stand in solidarity with countless parents across the state and the nation who feel enough is enough. I stand in solidarity with countless parents across the state and the nation who refuse to tolerate the manipulation of the public education system. I stand in solidarity with countless parents across the state and the nation who refuse to have their children sold out to the highest corporate bidder. I stand in solidarity with countless parents across the state and nation who support, trust, and value our school teachers. I stand in solidarity with countless parents across the state and nation who refuse to compromise the quality of their children’s education.
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