Find activities for no-PARCC kids, NJ parents say
As debate continues over the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, boards of education across the Garden State are being lobbied by parents to make accommodations for students who refuse to take the exam.
At a meeting Tuesday night in Moorestown, more than 100 parents and teachers showed up for a PARCC presentation and Q-and-A session. Most of those in attendance said, off the record, that they had serious concerns about PARCC. Parents who felt that way feared any further comments would result in retaliatory action by school officials against their children. Several individuals who identified themselves as school employees indicated they didn't want to speak out about PARCC because they were afraid they'd be fired.
One parent who did address the Board of Ed was Jack Fairchild, leader of Moorestown's "No More Common Core" Facebook group.
"We're asking school officials to recognize refusals from parents and students, and we also want them to provide an appropriate, alternative educational experience," Fairchild said. "Do not place them within the testing center with the other students. It's going to be very disruptive for the other students in there, for the other test-takers. It's also really miserable for any period of time in one place, and (to) not be able to move around. We would like to see a written response from (the school board) by Feb. 1, on what their policy is."
Moorestown Superintendent of Schools Tim Rehm said right now, students who refuse to take the PARCC test will sit at their desks and be silent for the duration of the exam.
We always will accommodate children and put children in comfortable situations, so as we move forward toward the test, right now we have a very, very small number -- less than a handful -- that have put something into refused testing," Rehm said. "But we will monitor this, and make decisions in the best interest of students as we move forward."
"I assure you, no student will be put in a situation -- whether that means being able to bring relative material, perhaps a book, or if we evolve into a situation where we're putting a child into a better situation -- but right now this is our protocol, but it's a work in progress," Rehm added. "There's a lack of guidance from the state, but we will accommodate our students the best we can."
Fairchild said there are many problems with the PARCC test.
"It's too much, it's 10 days of testing in a 180-day school calendar year; that's a large percentage," he said. "And there is also all the time in getting kids ready to take the test, and it's also extremely expensive, not only direct to the state paying $25 per student, whatever it is, but also to the schools.
"Parents are upset," Fairchild said. "Clearly there's a large number across the state; there's something there, we all kind of get it. All the parents should really get involved, and they should go onto the PARCC site and take the PARCC practice exam and see how ludicrous the exam truly is."
Some other New Jersey boards of education, including Buena, met Tuesday night and assured parents that children not taking the PARCC test will have another activity, in a separate area, when the exam is given.