About 6 months ago the New Jersey Department of Education went through some leadership changes as our new Governor came on board. The Commissioner and various department heads then went on a listening tour as way to engage stakeholders about what needs to change with our educational system. They also gave citizens a chance to email their thoughts. So I put my parent hat on and sent an email which you can read below. They thanked me for my thoughts and I went about my life as an educator and parent. I am happy to share that over the summer we received word that student seat time for standardized tests would be cut. Then, last week we received word that test scores tied to a teacher’s overall evaluation would be drastically cut as well. As a taxpayer, parent, and educator it’s nice to be heard and actually see issues be addressed. Many thanks to the New Jersey Departnent of Education.
I can't believe I am saying this, but please do not get rid of PARCC. Trust me, as a parent and taxpayer I’m not in love with the countless hours that key district personnel spend on ensuring that these online tests go off without a hitch. It drives me crazy to see my children’s school schedules potentially turned upside down for weeks at a time to accommodate the implementation of these online tests. I also respectfully disagree with the way my children’s math teachers, language arts teachers, and school leaders are rated based on how well or poorly students perform on these once a year assessments. I am also perplexed at the amount of energy people spend comparing districts when scores are released to the public. Fortunately there are many districts that downplay test scores and see them as just on piece of the puzzle as they look to make their great educational institutions greater.
So with all this being said, lately there has been much chatter about how New Jersey should do away with PARCC. Given the reasons listed above it would seem like a no-brainer. But why would we do this to ourselves? Why get rid of PARCC? Finally we are used to an online assessment that is somewhat manageable and give us some guidance on addressing student learning gaps. Instead of getting of rid of PARCC, let just make some adjustments. Here is what I propose...
All we need to do is change the perception and narrative of PARCC testing or any standardized assessments that are being used throughout the country. They should be used for diagnostic purposes only. We need to keep it simple and by that I mean open up your computer, sign in, take the assessment, and log out. I think over time we would see students, and all stakeholders for that matter, under-react to the thought of testing season.
What are are your thoughts on this matter?
Brad is the 2017 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year and the 2017 NJPSA Visionary Leader of the Year. He is the father of two children who attend public schools in the state of New Jersey. Interact with Brad on Twitter @thebradcurrie.