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WATCH: NJEA president: ‘No fix’ to the PARCC controversy

Two education experts joined host Eric Scott in the studio Thursday night for a special installment of NJ 101.5’s Town Hall Series on the pros and cons of New Jersey’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, known as PARCC.

Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association and Dr. Sandra Alberti, an educator and the former director of Academic Standards for the NJ Department of Education, weighed in on the pros and cons of the test.

Wendall Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, on the air with host Eric Scott, left. (Toniann Antonelli, Townsquare Media)

Steinhauer, who is not a proponent of the PARCC test, said technology is an issue with the new exam.

“We’re talking about third-graders, fourth-graders, and so on, some that have grown up in this ‘tablet world’ where you touch the screen, and what’s this mouse now that you have to use, to click and drag that,” he said.

He also believes the tests utilize “trick questions” that are confusing to students.

“I’ve listened to parents I’ve looked at these PARCC tests and …I don’t know where they’re coming from. It seems like a ‘gotcha test,'” he said. “We’re setting up kids to fail.”

Alberti, however, is an advocate of the exam and said the alternative would be not to administer standardized tests – which are required – or to revert back to the previous tests as as the NJ ASK test. She believes PARCC is “generations better” than the previous assessments.

As far as the public hearings are concerned, Alberti believes it’s getting parents more involved in education, although she did admit that there should have been a request for feedback earlier in the process.

“Never did we have the kind of parental involvement – you know, heat, debate, pushback – and so there wasn’t a process in place,” Alberti said. “We were late to the game in communicating effectively, directly, to parents. That is absolutely true, and many of us are paying the price for that now.”

Steinhauer doesn’t believe this is an issue that can be easily solved.

“I have looked at it, I’ve tried it. I don’t think there’s a fix to it, quite honestly, you know. I’ll be straight and to the point: I don’t think there’s a fix to it,” he said.

The NJEA president believes communication between the Department of Education and the public needs to continue after the first round of PARCC tests are administered in spring.

“I would be really interested in the reaction from parents and students and teachers in April,” he said.


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