Stressed by the test: Debate over New Jersey’s PARCC exam
Adults and kids alike continue to voice displeasure over the large number of tests students are required to take in school, and there is growing unhappiness about one in particular -- the "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers" exam all students in grades 3 through 11 are required to take this spring.
Dozens of teachers, parents and students spoke out against PARCC during an open forum at the New Jersey State Department of Education in Trenton Wednesday afternoon.
Among them was Jacob Hartmann, a freshman Toms River High School South honor student.
He complained that the PARCC test is unfair to students, who become hyper-focused on it and stressed out as a result, and it's not fair to teachers, who are spending a lot of classroom time prepping students for an exam that many believe is a waste of time.
"The technology is not working and the students are frustrated," Hartmann said. "Someone needs to say something."
He indicated many of the new laptops purchased by his school so that students can take the online test aren't working properly, and the effect on students is quite negative.
"They're very stressed," he said. "They'll be working on something, the computer will shut off, stop working, and then they'll have to redo everything."
During Hartmann's testimony before education officials, he said Pearson PLC, the for-profit company that's created the PARCC test, "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.
"How can students and parents feel confident in a company that is not even meeting ethical standards and is corrupt?" Hartmann asked. "My thoughts and opinions are also shared by (the) local community and my peers."
Hartmann has started an informational website about the PARCC test, cc.jacobhartmann.me.
He told the board he's been researching PARCC for years and found the only thing it does is maintain the status quo, which he said is sad because everyone is different and learns at different levels.