Spiller, Miles call for complete transition

The New Jersey State Board of Education heard testimony yesterday afternoon on proposed amendments to the Standards and Assessment chapter of the state’s education regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:8). The amendments, which were recommended to the board by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) under the leadership of Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet, were introduced at the July 11 State Board meeting. NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller and NJEA Associate Director for Professional Development Dr. Christine Miles were among nearly two dozen public education stakeholders who testified on the proposed amendments.

Spiller and Miles prasied the proposed changes by NJDOE as a progressive step, and they expressed the need for a further, more complete transition from PARCC.

“PARCC tests create unneeded stress for students, they take time away from teaching, they constrain the curriculum, and they fail to provide teachers or parents with data that is timely and actionable” said NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller as he addressed the board.  “When our young learners view PARCC as a hindrance to success — as one fourth grade student noted, ‘The PARCC may make it so that I don’t become as successful as others or go to a good college’ — then we need a new normal.”

According to the NJDOE, the amended standards would maintain high expectations for all New Jersey public school students, while seeking to simplify graduation requirements and clarify assessment requirements for English language learner (ELL) students and students with disabilities.

Dr. Miles presented the Stakeholders Perceptions on PARCC report developed by NJEA, and completed in collaboration with the NJDOE, NJPSA, Save Our Schools New Jersey and other stakeholder groups, detailing public perceptions regarding the assessment.

“A remarkable and disturbing finding from our sessions, which was highlighted most frequently by students, was the evidence of mental health implications that the current statewide assessment system has upon them. Participants shared noticeable shifts in student dispositions, citing heightened anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion evident in students leading up to and during PARCC administration” said Dr. Miles.  “Participants even shared frequent anecdotes about students ‘breaking down’ from the pressures of testing. The high-stakes of PARCC as a graduation requirement is one more onerous and unnecessary burden negatively impacting our students’ mental health.”

Prior to the public testimony, the state board spent several hours at its meeting this morning discussing the recommendations.

Those proposals include:

  • Eliminating the term “PARCC” throughout rule text
  • Allowing students in their first year in the S. to substitute an ELA assessment with a language proficiency test (i.e. Access for ELLs)  (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-4.1(d)1ii)
  • Clarifying that a student’s IEP or 504 plan establishes the individualized accommodations, instructional adaptations, and/or modifications that must be provided.(N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1(a)4 and 4.1(d)1)
  • Reducing number of days (60 to 45) superintendents have to report their assessment results to their boards of education (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-4.3(a))
  • Ensuring applicable student results are provided to students, parents, and teachers within 45 days of receiving final reports (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-4.3(b))
  • Maintaining current graduation assessment requirements that students pass an Algebra I and ELA 10 state assessment, but allow students who do not pass the state assessments to, following remediation, extra support and/or additional retakes, be able to meet the graduation assessment requirement through a menu of options, currently afforded Class of 2019 (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1)
  • Removing state end-of-course assessments required for Geometry, Algebra II, ELA 9, and ELA 11 and by doing so, remove the requirement that students must take these assessments prior to being afforded alternative pathways to meeting the assessment requirement (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1)

Read Sean M. Spiller’s full testimony

Read Dr. Christine Miles full testimony

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