Education testing company monitors students’ social media post about PARCC test

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WARREN, New Jersey (PIX11) --  A student at Watchung Hills Regional High School allegedly referenced the PARCC test in a tweet made after school.  School administrators didn’t catch it but the test’s creator allegedly did.

The Superintendent said the Department of Education told her, “Pearson is monitoring all social media during PARCC testing.”

Pearson is the education company that authored the new state exam.

“I have to say I find that a bit disturbing,” Watchung superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett,  wrote. Her e-mail has now been shared by thousands on Facebook.

But the New Jersey Department of Education said this monitoring, “is not new, nor is it unique to this test.” Adding that these are public postings, and if anyone feels Pearson “has over-stepped its bounds, let the Department know and we will look into the matter.”

“I find it kind of almost an invasion of privacy,” Alex Mirsky, a 9th grader at Mount Olive High School said, “kind of strange that Pearson is monitoring students’ social media.”

Mirsky refused to take the PARCC and said his school originally told him he’d have to take an alternative graded assignment instead. Mirsky started an online petition that he  says helped get that policy changed.

“All different school districts across the state have their own different policy, and that's one of the major problems coming out of the Department of Education,” he said.

Chloe Wagner, an 8th grader in Hope Township, was treated differently. She also refused to take the PARCC test.  She said she had to watch silently as others took the exam for seven combined hours. Her mom let her stay home one day while all of this was going on but when Chloe returned to school, she said she had make up missed time watching others take the test.

“Testing was over and they pulled her out of class almost as a punishment, it seemed, because she should have been in class learning,” Chloe’s mom, Renee Wagner said.

She said when she complained to the school about all this they told her there was no alternative. Chloe would have to miss her regularly scheduled classes to watch others take a make up exam.

“I missed math, language arts, and half of my science period. So I had worksheets and reading to catch up on,”  she said.

“And at that point I started writing letters. To the superintendent, to the mayor, to the state assemblyman,” Renee Wagner said.

Stacey Brown, the Principal and Director of Curriculum for the Hope Township School, said a meeting has been scheduled to reconsider their testing procedures.  She said students who currently refuse the test are not disciplined but that they do have to sit in the testing room and watch others complete the exam.

Wagner said she has been asked to testify about her and her daughter’s experience before the State Assembly.  Mirsky is now working to change another policy. He wants the State Senate to vote on a bill that would forbid students who refuse the test from sitting and staring as others take the PARCC exam.

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