Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

100 Join Trenton Parcc Protest

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

100 Join Trenton Parcc Protest

Article excerpt

Parents, educators and activists lined up in Trenton on Wednesday to send a message that New Jersey should not adopt graduation standards that would require students to pass controversial new state tests.

The state has proposed changing regulations to require students starting with the class of 2021 to pass tests known as PARCC in English 10 and Algebra I to earn their diploma. But critics say the exams are poor measures of student learning, even as the state touts them as tools to help raise accountability and standards.

About 100 people signed up to speak out against the proposal - so many that the state split them into four separate meeting rooms to testify before members of the state Board of Education, which must vote on the adoption of graduation requirements. During public testimony Wednesday, critics said that a single test in math and English language arts cannot provide a meaningful picture of whether a student is ready to graduate.

Sean Spiller, a Wayne educator and secretary-treasurer of the New Jersey Education Association, said schools did not have enough research or experience with the new test to make it a requirement to complete high school.

"The bottom line is that the stakes are extremely high for students and teachers and it is all based on a standardized test that has not been proven reliable and is only being used by a handful of states," he said.

Students, he said, should be able to graduate based on their grade-point average, transcript and earned credits that meet local requirements. In the first year, results of the PARCC tests that were given last spring to students in Grades 3 to 8, fewer than half of students passed the test in math and reading. Just 36 percent passed English 10 and Algebra I. State officials said they expect those scores to go up as schools and students get used to the new tests and the standards on which they are based. …

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