The 2014-2015 academic year is well underway, and with it comes the promise of a new beginning for school children all over the country.
But with this new beginning also comes a new era of high-stakes standardized testing. This year, New Jersey’s public school children in grades 3-11 will take Common Core-aligned PARCC tests, a series of online assessments that “allow parents and educators to see how children are progressing in school and whether they are on track for postsecondary success”–and on September 30th, Education Commissioner David Hespe announced that all students, beginning with the Class of 2016 (current juniors), must pass at least one PARCC assessment each in math and language arts in order to graduate.
While virtually everyone agrees that meaningful assessment has an important role in the classroom, many parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers are becoming increasingly concerned about the extent to which high-stakes tests–and the issues associated with them–are shaping public education in the United States.
Because there is so much uncertainty and misinformation about standardized testing in general–and, more specifically, about PARCC assessments–the Delran Education Association will host a “Take the PARCC” night to allow parents, educators, board of education members, legislators, and taxpayers to experience online PARCC assessments and engage in a discussion about high-stakes testing that will address the following:
- What is the purpose of PARCC testing–and how will the results of these tests be used?
- Who creates and scores the PARCC?
- What is the federal government’s role in standardized testing?
- How many standardized tests will New Jersey students be required to take this year?
- How much instructional time will be devoted to testing?
- To what extent is curriculum being shaped by standardized testing?
- To what extent are teachers being asked to use test-prep materials–produced and sold by testing corporations like Pearson–in class?
- How has standardized testing affected children’s feelings about school?
- What data is being collected about each student who takes standardized tests–and with whom is that data information shared?
- How much do the PARCC tests–and the tecnhological and logistical requirements that accompany them–cost?
- Are districts being forced to cut programs and/or personnel to budget for PARCC exams?
- What, if anything, can local boards of education do about state- and federally-mandated testing?
- What rights do parents have with regard to refusing testing for their children?
- Who determines how districts handle refusals?
- Could districts face negative consequences–financial or otherwise–if students refuse the tests?
We will be joined by Susan Cauldwell, lead organizer of Save Our Schools New Jersey, and we have extended invitations to other New Jersey student-advocacy groups. Announcements about their participation will be posted via social media in the weeks leading up to the event. Stay tuned for more information.
Anyone interested in participating in the Delran Education Association’s “Take the PARCC” event should mark their calendars with the information below and confirm their attendance by using the registration link below.
“Take the PARCC”*
Wednesday, December 3rd at 7pm
The Enterprise Center at Burlington County College
3331 Route 38
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054