Keeping true to Gov. Phil Murphy’s promise to move away from the current state standardized test, the New Jersey Department of Education last week released guidance on how it plans to replace PARCC.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers has been criticized by many educators and school districts since its implementation four years ago as overly burdensome. The test is required each year for students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. The scores are used to measure school performance.
In a memo released March 6, acting Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet said the test will still be administered this year, as it is too late logistically to switch to another test. He said the NJDOE will form an advisory group and also begin to meet with stakeholders in every county to develop a plan to replace PARCC.
“This will occur in a thoughtful, deliberative process to ensure compliance with state and federal law, smooth school and district operational transitions and, most importantly, in a manner that is most beneficial and least disruptive to the students whom we serve,” Repollet wrote.
New Jersey Education Association officials were pleased with the content of the memo.
“We are glad to know that PARCC’s days are numbered in New Jersey,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “From the beginning, it was a poorly planned, poorly executed fiasco that undermined real teaching and learning in New Jersey’s classrooms. No one understands better than educators what our students need in order to succeed. I’m very pleased that we will be involved in developing a better, smarter assessment system that benefits students and allows educators to do our jobs more effectively.”
Repollet said there are many issues to take into consideration in this transition, including finding a new vendor, the fiscal and operational impact and continued alignment to New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
“Additionally, as state and federal law require all states to use assessments as one method to gauge and compare progress of students and student groups and to evaluate how schools support learning, we need to ensure our next generation of assessments provides a fair and accurate picture of student progress toward the mastery of the skills we expect them to achieve,” Repollet wrote.
He said that while that process goes forward, “the current statewide assessments, as well as federal and state accountability and graduation requirements, all remain in effect.”