Last year was the first year all New Jersey public schools administered PARCC, “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.” In response to complaints that arose, modifications were introduced for this year’s test. Further, PARCC’s own Chief of Assessment, Jeffrey Nellhaus, acknowledged that PARCC scores were lower for students taking the exam on computer.
“While the changes made will likely result in an improved assessment, the fact that such changes were required calls into question the advisability of using these base year exams for high stakes decision making,” explained HVRSD School Board President, Lisa Wolff. “If NJ continues on its current path, they may repeat mistakes made by the many states that have issued retroactive high school diplomas to at least 70,000 students across the country in order to correct for exit exam challenges.”
For MercerMe’s coverage on the introduction of PARCC last year, see No Walk in the PARCC, HVRSD Families and Educators Try to Get the Facts
Currently, New Jersey is the only state in the nation using the new PARCC Assessments as a graduation exit test and the District believes that the validity and reliability of this assessment has not yet been established.
The Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education (HVRSD BOE) passed a resolution at Monday’s board meeting urging the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to withdraw its pending graduation requirement proposals from consideration before the State Board of Education after an announcement by NJDOE that, beginning with the Class of 2016, that high school graduation requirements will rely heavily on PARCC. HVRSD BOE, also by the resolution, is urging the NJDOE to implement the recommendation of the Governor’s College and Career Ready Task Force, which includes a multi-year transition to a new assessment system that does “not establish a minimum passing score as a graduation requirement” on the new PARCC Assessments and would allow all stakeholders to develop a new consensus around the transparent and equitable assessment policies all students deserve.
For Wolff’s Op-Ed piece published on NJ Spotlight, check out OP-ED: REQUIRING PARCC TEST TO EARN HIGH-SCHOOL DIPLOMA STILL A BAD IDEA FOR NJ
For the over 50,000 New Jersey seniors in the class of 2016 students who do not pass the PARCC Assessments, they must access the NJDOE’s other “options” in order to graduate this June, with even more tests and/or the graduation appeals process.
Last year, HVRSD established a PARCC refusal policy for those students whose parents have decided that the student will not take PARCC.
Often those not passing are the neediest students. “It is pretty sad when our neediest students must spend their time on PARCC remediation rather than on classroom learning,” said Wolff. “We are lucky that this requirement doesn’t affect Hopewell as much as neighboring districts, but it still raises an obvious manpower problem. Staff spends weeks of valuable time generating portfolios rather than on instilling academic knowledge. The problem compounds in districts with high numbers not passing PARCC. Additionally, it begs the question: how much increased staffing is needed at the DOE to review portfolio submissions from hundreds of high schools?”
The HVRSD BOE, by the resolution, urges that the legislature review/hold hearings on the impact of the Department’s proposed graduation rules on the class of 2016.
“While the HVRSD Board passed a resolution concerning these changes to graduation requirements, we are not necessarily opposed to exit exams, but believe that it is premature to primarily rely on the PARCC in its current state,” said Wolff. “The Board found it disappointing that the DOE took a heavy-handed, rather than a more thoughtful or phased, approach to changing graduation requirements.”