Remember the concern about the PARCC test a few years ago?

As the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test was being developed, many high school kids and their parents took sample tests and were not able to pass it, complaining PARCC was confusing and badly organized.

Nevertheless, the state Department of Education, at the urging of the Christie Administration, adopted a requirement for all high school students to pass PARCC starting in 2021, which means kids who are freshmen in high school right now face the looming threat of PARCC.

“I don’t think one test should determine one’s ability to graduate," says state Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, the vice chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. "They are taking classes every day, they’re taking tests and they’re being evaluated regularly. It should not be just a one-shot deal to make that kind of decision."

“I think it should be used in terms of measuring and evaluating the growth and development of students and to help instruct teachers where academic deficiencies may lie with their students so they can get extra help to bring them up to par.”

Turner noted there are significant concerns about how the test is designed.

She noted even under the best of circumstances, “when you give these standardized tests, the student may be having a bad day. There may be other things going on in their life.”

Turner recalled when she was in high school she would always get nervous and tense up during tests, which she pointed out may happen to many students — and “that’s not an indication of one’s potential," she says.

“Using grades throughout the year is a better measurement as to what a student has learned.”

She noted the PARCC test is given on a computer, which means it’s not a level playing field.

“We have many students who are living in areas of the state —inner cities or rural areas — where they don’t have access to computers in their home as their suburban counterparts do, and they are at a disadvantage.”

She stressed if the PARCC requirement is not removed, “it’s a major disaster, it would be a calamity, because what are we going to do with those young people?”

She said it’s unfair to them and their parents.

“Those children will either have to repeat, or they may drop out, which is exactly the wrong thing that we would want them to do,” she said.

“It would make it harder for them to find employment, and if they’re not employed they’re going to require social services, so this is not a good thing.”

Turner noted the only other state that has this requirement is New Mexico.

Turner has sponsored legislation to remove the requirement to pass the PARCC test in order to graduate from high school, but so far the measure has not been considered by the Education Committee because the chairwoman won’t allow it.

After repeated calls to state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, asking why she has not posted the bill for consideration, a spokesperson for the Senate Majority Office, Trish Graber, said Ruiz was not available for an interview.

Turner said if her bill is not considered in the coming months, she will reintroduce it at the beginning of next year when there’s a new governor.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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