While New Jersey high schools have already begun phase 1 of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers PARCC test – the Assembly has approved a bill which would scale back the scope of the tests.

The bill would bar the State Education Department from using the test as a way to determine students’ placement in advanced or gifted programs for the next 3 years; nor as a graduation requirement.

I think this had already been in the works. What I’d want to know, as a concerned parent, would be what happens after the initial 3 year period expires?

Will the test become the “gold standard” used for placement, eventually a graduation requirement; and as an evaluation tool for teachers?

Hmmm…one wonders!

So does Jane Ellen Duffy.

She’s with Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now (CAN) and said that it could be a while before an evaluation to measure student and teacher performance is developed.

“It’s actually a five-year delay because of the way DOE calculates.” “That’s a very long time to wait to have an objective measure for student performance and teacher evaluation.”

Here’s another endorsement, albeit tepid, coming from Assembly Education Committee Chairman and bill sponsor Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-South Plainfield.)

He says that the test is “confusing” but feels it should be used as a pilot program anyhow.

“The test as we have now everyone agrees is flawed. Rather than just suspending the whole process it’s my belief let’s do it. Let’s use it as a pilot (program).” I took the test. It is really not a valid gauge of a child’s performance. It’s tricky. It’s confusing.”

Say what!!!

Ok, so let me get this straight – if it’s that confusing, and time is being spent on teaching how to take the test – then why give it in the first place?

Anyway, here’s what’s happening on the front lines.

A high school teacher I know tells me the following:

Test is running smoothly, some minor glitches but nothing worth reporting. Seems that the functional part of the test meaning Parsons programming and the use of all computers is fine. In fact I would say so far I would grade it as excellent since it's really the first time this type of endeavor has been used in a wide scale event and usually anything like this involving this type of technology has many bugs the first time, but that's not the case (so far).

As for the kids, they are taking it all in stride and actually seem to be enjoying the extra time off. Remember each grade in high school only has 1 or 2 days of testing. So out of the 5 they don't have to come to school until 11:30. They like that!!!!

All teachers all fine. It's a break for us and we go with the flow. We have to be here regardless and when the day is over, it's over. As for missing class time, you just miss it.

Cut out a chapter here or there. No big deal to us. We are not being held accountable for not getting through all the chapters. The administration knows that time was lost. So that's not really any concern.

My friend goes on to say that 12th grade students especially love it since it gives them 5 days of delayed openings; and since students and teachers know the test won’t count for anything, they expect test scores to be low – but like anything new, will take a few cycles to get right.

I mentioned to him initially that I thought the pushback on the part of parents was a bit over the top – to which he agreed.

However, noting that students in school now are taking a test that doesn’t even count toward anything; is allowing schools to delay classes for other students; and giving teachers carte blanche to eliminate chapters from their lesson plans enough to convince parents that their kids truly are being used as guinea pigs.

Are they learning anything?

Probably not – other than how to take a test which, at least for now, means nothing.

Is this what you want your kids to learn – or for that matter, not learn?