Is it time well spent to give a test to students in grades 3 through 11 twice a year to try and assess their “readiness for college and careers?”

Some might think the answer to that would be a flat “yes!” stating that it’s the best way to gauge a student’s educational progress – and assess their future needs.

Aren’t there other tests students take that accomplish that goal?

Besides that is the concern that the company giving the test has been accused of bad business practices and that students taking the test “stress out” due to faulty equipment needed to take the test.
Add to all that is the fact that the company is a “for profit” company; meaning someone is paying them for administering the test.

Guess who?
Right – you and I.

So during a meeting last week at the Department of Education headquarters in Trenton, Jacob Hartmann, a freshman Toms River High School South honor student openly questioned the wisdom of giving the test in the first place.

He stated that the test would be “unfair” to students, since they’d be hyper focused on the test itself; and that teachers would be teaching to the test instead of much needed lesson plans.

Regarding the equipment, he pointed out:

“They’ll be working on something, the computer will shut off, stop working, and then they’ll have to redo everything.”

And he didn’t stop there. He pointed out that the company administering PARCC - Pearson PLC –

“is under investigation by the FBI for corrupt hierarchy, inside trading with Apple and the Los Angeles school district, and wrongful termination of employees. Pearson is also on the verge of bankruptcy, with a 53 percent drop in their stock and their operating profit down 45 percent for the first two quarters of 2014.”

He added the Pearson Foundation, which is now closed, was forced to pay more than $7 million in fines for unlawfully generating business.

Easy to see why he’s an honor student. Kid’s obviously done his homework.

His diatribe ended with the assessment that all the test does is maintain the status quo. No real assessment of a student’s capabilities comes out of the test.

Just recently, a group of parents in Marlboro have launched an online petition saying the same thing the Toms River freshman pointed out yesterday.

According to Dan Katz, professor of education at Seton Hall University,

we’ve been in a cycle of educational policy over the past 30 years that has been emphasizing “the narrative that our schools are failing us. And that was pushed into overdrive, first with the No Child Left Behind Act and then with the Race to the Top grant program, both emphasizing standardized test-based accountability. But now, there is too much emphasis on testing. A standardized test, if it is designed very well, is one approximation of learning, but it is not learning in and of itself.”

Just this past week, Governor Christie was asked about the PARCC test and about standardized testing in general.

According to our report: several months ago, Christie established a commission to review the effectiveness of all K-12 assessments administered in New Jersey. The commission is going to be examining PARCC, but Christie said parents need to understand the need for student evaluations.

“There is going to be some type of testing,” the governor said. “We need to gauge where our children are and if they’re learning at a sufficient rate.”

I understand that parents complain about tests, but they would also complain if we didn’t test and we didn’t know where they were, and they felt their child was falling behind and not getting the appropriate attention. We have to test children to see if they’re learning. How else are we going to know if we’re doing our jobs or we’re not?”

Christie added the commission should come back in one to two months with a report on the situation, and possible recommendations. His overall reaction was dismissive of the reaction to the test, saying, in effect, that we've all been given standardized tests and that we're all still here. So the argument that kids are "over-stressed" in his opinion - is overblown.

However you have to figure there's got to be a pot of gold for someone at the end of that rainbow.

Pearson LLC for one? The districts giving the test for another.