New Jersey Middle School Teacher Discusses the Benefits of the PARCC Exam

A Recent Poll Found That a Majority of New Jersey Residents Believe Annual Assessments are Helpful
Larissa Druding, Middle School English Teacher, Beverly City School, Beverly City, New Jersey

(Beverly City, NJ, Tuesday, May 1, 2018) â€“ The week of May 7, New Jersey students in grades 3-8 and high school will take the PARCC exam – their annual assessment in English language arts and math.

Since New Jersey adopted the PARCC assessment in 2015, there have been pockets across the state where parents have chosen to opt students out of taking this important annual test.

A recent poll found that a majority of New Jersey residents believe annual assessments are helpful.

When students opt out of assessments, parents, educators and policymakers lose important feedback on student performance that can help identify achievement gaps.

When parents opt students out of the PARCC assessment, they not only lose this check on their own child’s academic progress, they also deprive New Jersey’s schools of the critical information needed to make policy decisions about how to support all kids.

Opt-out efforts undermine the integrity and value of good exams, and they do little to improve testing policy. Most importantly, they put all students—not just those who opt out—at a disadvantage.

In 2015, New Jersey adopted the PARCC assessment, which is aligned to New Jersey’s academic standards. In 2015, the state saw significant opposition to the test, with participation rates dropping to 91 percent in English, 90 percent in math – both below the 95 percent federal requirement. Since then, participation rates have been on the rise (96 percent in 2017), though there are still pockets of opt out in the state where parents refuse to allow their students to take annual assessments.

The National Parent Teacher Association and New Jersey Parent Teacher Association and civil rights groups alike have all expressed support for annual assessments, like the PARCC, as important indicators of student progress – helping to shine a light on what’s working, and what’s not working in our schools.

Beverly City, a small urban town in Burlington County where 70 percent of the students live below the poverty line and 100 percent receive free or reduced lunch, was able to apply feedback from their PARCC results to raise student achievement. In two years, the district saw proficiency rates increase by 21 percent in English and 13 percent in math.

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