Common Core New Jersey Testing

New Jersey Parent: The Movement is Growing

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New Jersey parent and blogger Sarah Blaine (parentingthecore) describes the test rebellion brewing in her state:

“I have been so proud of my state ever since the January 7, 2015 State Board of Education open public comment period. We filled 4 rooms of testimony (in two buildings) that day. Almost 100 people spoke out against the PARCC, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Trenton set the spark, and the press jumped on the bandwagon. We’ve had stories (that I’ve seen) about the PARCC refusal movement in The Star Ledger, on CBS News, in The Asbury Park Press, in The Alternative Press, in countless local papers, and the best TV coverage I’ve personally seen is this NJ Public Television/PBS-13 piece from earlier this week (and not just because I am interviewed in it via a terrible Skype connection to my iPad) http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/legislation-addresses-parcc-test-controvery/ .

“Our Opt Out of State Standardized Tests – New Jersey Facebook page has grown from about 2,700 prior to the January 7th meeting in Trenton to 7,443 as of this writing.

“At the Jersey City meeting of the Governor’s PARCC Study Commission on January 28th, I watched parents, teachers, and even a Superintendent stand up, one after another, to speak intelligently, thoughtfully, and passionately about the problems the PARCC tests are causing at our schools. That generated more press coverage.

“And then the following night in Jackson, NJ, even more parents and teachers spoke out against the tests. As I understand it, the testimony that night lasted for well over 5 hours (plus 4 hours in Jersey City the night before).

“Tomorrow, as noted above, the state assembly’s education committee is hearing public testimony regarding three bills: A-4165 (enshrining parents’ opt-out rights in law, which is up for discussion only, unfortunately), A-4190 (preventing any graduation, placement, or other academic decisions to be made for students based on PARCC results for the next three years), and A3079 (prohibiting all standardized testing in grades K-2).

“Take the PARCC events and screenings of Standardized have been popping up all over the state. We have more than 20 local “Cares About Schools” type groups scattered through our towns now. A grassroots group is even working on a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $4,000 of the $8,000 needed to fund three Choose to Refuse the PARCC billboards.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of this movement, and I am so proud of my fellow citizens for standing up for public education. I was particularly proud of my local Board of Education this week, which passed (by a vote of 6-0) a resolution requiring all of our schools to offer educationally appropriate alternatives to kids whose parents refuse to allow them to test.

“But we’ve still got a long way to go.

“We’ve got to get those NJ assembly bills passed into law. We need to make sure that as a country, we do what it takes to ensure that the ESEA re-authorization doesn’t codify problematic education policy into law for years to come. And we need to plan a better future for our kids — one that values real learning and education in all subject areas over standardized test scores.

“My local school district announced on Monday night that at its PARCC technology trials, 88% of students were able to complete the test. That’s 12% who weren’t able — due entirely to technology issues. The PARCC is a mess, but we parents need to get the word out and turn our small refusal movement into a massive groundswell. Testing starts in less than 3 weeks. The time is now. (Although I do expect our movement to grow exponentially between March and May once parents hear from their kids how awful the first round of tests really area.)

“As a parent, I think the technology idiocy compounds all of the issues, but personally, I’m in this because assigning high-stakes consequences (for schools, teachers, and/or kids) to these tests forces narrowing of the curriculum. I’m speaking out tomorrow about what I’ve seen disappear from my kids’ schools. I urge New Jersey and the rest of the country to do the same. We really can make a difference for our kids. I’m amazed at how much real statewide, grassroots organizing can accomplish. But this is still the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got about a million public school kids in NJ scheduled to take this test, and about 7,000 members of our Opt-Out group.

“We need to grow the numbers further, and show that parents are fed up with what’s happening to our kids’ education.

“We have the power — now we have to convince our neighbors and friends to stop assuming that we can’t change things, and to instead buckle down to make sure we can.”

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