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Testing Revolt In Montclair, Bloomfield?

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Answers Marked on Test ca. 2001It’s the season of high-stakes standardized testing in New Jersey and there seems to be discontent in the air.

Montclair has sent out a memo to teachers supervising the test explaining what they need to do if a student shows up for school but declines to take the NJ-ASK or if the student’s parents tell the school that their child will not be tested.

Bloomfield’s Board of Education, meanwhile, is stating its flat-out opposition to the tests and telling parents what they need to do to oppose them. In a note posted on the Bloomfield BOE’s Web site, its president, Shane Berger, says in part:

We believe that every child should have an equal opportunity to prosper and be provided the skills to be a successful member of society. Every child deserves a full curriculum in a school with adequate resources. We are deeply concerned that the current overemphasis on standardized testing is harming children, public schools, and our nation’s economic and civic future. It is our conclusion that the over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests is threatening public education, as we know it.

It has become a significant burden on our school system to provide the required mandated programs that are not funded by either the state or the federal government. The cost of funding these programs has negatively impacted on our ability to provide a thorough and efficient educational experience for all our children.

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The note asks parents concerned about the tests to send it letters which it will send to the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, which is being urged to hold hearings on high-stakes standardized testing.

And not all is rosy in the world of New Jersey’s next generation of testing, the PARCC. NJSpotlight.com, which covers education and politics in New Jersey, had a story yesterday on the trial runs of the test that are being held around the state, particularly the unintended consequences. Here’s what one teacher told the Web site:

Teachers and nontesting students have no access to computers and media resources during the testing days. This is getting to be a real problem, since the amount of testing days can approach 30 and administration has not indicated that there is going to be an improvement in access next year.

Where’s Verona in all this? Superintendent Steve Forte told us that Essex County’s Superintendent of Schools has told districts that how they handle so-called “opt outs” is up to them. Earlier this week, Verona resident Terry Moore wrote an op-ed piece about the impact of high-stakes standardized testing and what parents can do about them. That op-ed is here.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

5 COMMENTS

  1. So how exactly will Verona handle test refusals? The last paragraph does not answer that question.

  2. Will you be reporting on test refusal numbers? Is this information Verona schools are compelled to share?

  3. How much does Verona spend on unfunded but mandated corporate testing? At yesterday’s Kindergarten workshop, the SCA discussed how important fundraising is for the school and what lovely educational opportunities and enrichment it provides. My first thought was, if we didn’t have testing, we wouldn’t have to do all this fundraising. Testing for Gr. 7 and 8 took four entire mornings. How much rich, deep, and rigorous learning happened? None. I trust our excellent teachers to let me know where my child excels and where they need help. I don’t need Pearson to tell me this information. Further, who grades the written essays? Temporary minimum wage workers (with a college degree) score the essays. This is unacceptable.

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