TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey State Board of Education voted unanimously, with one abstention, to require that all students must pass the controversial PARCC exam in order to graduate.
The board’s decision was made after months of deliberation and and push back from thousands of parents and teachers. At least 3,000 have signed various petitions against the requirement and many also filed public comments with the board in opposition.
“Parent outcry has been huge. There has been a ton of vocal opposition to PARCC,” said Tova Felder, a parent and teacher. “The state board of education does not care what the parents think, does not listen to us and invites us to come to trenton and speak to them merely as a legal formality.”
In Felder’s view, the test is too difficult, poorly constructed, produces unreliable results and profits private interests. Her opposition is so strong, she would still refuse the test for her son, even after the state’s mandate today.
“You know, if we had to decide right now what we were doing, our son would still not take this test,” she said. “And if we absolutely had to we would pull him out of school at the last minute, homeschool him until he graduated.”
Both the state ACLU and the Education Law Center stated that the new regulation violates the state constitution. Some school districts have gone on the record against the PARCC exam.
Save Our Schools New Jersey, an advocacy group with 31,000 members, stated Wednesday:
“Despite unified opposition from parents, school board members, and teachers, the State Board of Education has chosen to endorse a graduation requirement so inappropriately difficult that it would fail 60% of New Jersey students.”
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education contends that the test has been validated by numerous educators and researchers. The State will continue to work with local school districts to improve it.
The Department also points to statewide data released yesterday that showed more students are taking the PARCC. A signal, they say, that the public values the test and the information that it provides.