Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Jersey Teacher - PARCC Chaos Is Beyond Fathomable

As the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests loom ever nearer, more and more concerns are starting to surface from New Jersey parents and teachers about the new testing regime, and what it will mean for students. 

New Jersey education blogger Sarah Blaine has been shredding PARCC, Pearson, Acting Commissioner Hespe and Arne Duncan, not just on her own awesome blog, Parenting the Core, but on Valerie Strauss' The Answer Sheet as well. 

"Take the PARCC" events have been scheduled around the state to give parents a truer sense of the tests. You can take the PARCC sample questions for a test drive here.

Districts have dropped mid terms and finals to try to recoup some of the time lost to PARCC testing.

Many are concerned about Acting Commissioner Hespe's pronouncement that PARCC tests will be used as a graduation requirement, starting with the class of 2016.

Keeping all of this in mind, I wasn't surprised when an academic high school teacher reached out to me about the havoc PARCC tests were wreaking in a large, suburban New Jersey district. But even I have to admit, I was surprised to learn just how much impact the PARCC will have, and how much time it will take away from genuine opportunities for learning.

I think you will be too, so here is the teacher's story.

It's a bit startling to truly understand how these new exams will impact learning. 
We were expecting the PARCC testing to disrupt our schedules, but the magnitude of it is beyond comprehension. 
The High School Proficiency Assessments (HSPA) test required three days of delayed openings. The PARCC will require 15... fifteen... days of two and a half hours delayed openings. Our regular classes are cut from 40 to 25 minutes, including lunch periods.
The chaos which will result from this is beyond fathomable. 
There is no way this will not result in material having to be cut from the curriculum, or watered down to nothing. The Advanced Placement exams will arrive in May no matter what. The students will have to learn much of the material outside of class.
There is simply no alternative.  
The students who come from or go to the vo-tech schools for part of the day will be living in constant chaos. Many science labs will not be able to be performed in the short amount of time available. The library will be used for testing and for make up testing, making it and the librarians moot for the better part of two months. The buses will have to run twice in the morning, first to bring the students taking a PARCC test that day, then those who aren’t, all at great cost.  
With only 25 minutes there will be no point in having students change for phys. ed., so that entire department will basically be shut down. How this all will affect teachers who move between schools or in other situations remains to be seen.  
We’re used to dealing with unusual situations for a day or two on occasion but for half a month? It’s going to cause major negative effects long term. Some good teachers are talking about quitting over this. They're supposed to be educators, not proctors for other people's exams. 
This story is not unique to a single district. 
When this is all over, there are the AP tests… ten days, and the Biology Competency tests… 2 days.
Then final exams. 
I’m just not sure that there is going to be anything covered next semester to put on a final exam. 


  1. Thank you so much for your generous and kind shout out. You are one of my heroes of the education blogging universe!

    1. You are doing such incredible work, thank YOU!

  2. Thank You for your good fight. We all feel so small, but together, we will make a difference! God Bless

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