Board Of Ed Hears Objections To PARCC

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Answers Marked on Test ca. 2001Verona, like every other public school district in New Jersey, has been preparing for the debut of a new state-mandated standardized test this spring. At last week’s Board of Education meeting, the BOE heard almost an hour of concerns about the PARCC, the test that accompanies the so-called Common Core curriculum that New Jersey now is following.

The discussion begins at the nine-minute mark of the video below. The audio quality is poor in spots but you will hear Superintendent Rui Dionisio speak about what Verona is doing to prepare students for the test. Several months ago, Dionisio announced that Verona would be investing in more computers, both for the test and for regular classroom use. (Verona also dropped midterms at Verona High School to accommodate the PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers tests.)

The speakers included Judy Rostello, a Wayne resident who is a member of Citizens United for Responsible Education New Jersey. She has been active in the opposition to the Common Core in Wayne and has addressed school boards in other towns. The board also heard from Liz Arias, who is among the Verona residents who have organized an information meeting on the PARCC on February 21, as well as from Al DeOld who taught at Verona High School for many years.

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Dionisio said that testing is being organized to be the “least disruptive” to the school day, both in terms of when it takes place and where. Testing will be staggered throughout the school day and week; not everyone will be tested at the same time and students will return to regular instruction once the test is over. Verona will have wireless access ready in March, and will let students work on computers on a PARCC tutorial in advance. “We don’t want their first time working on the computers to be during testing,” Dionisio said.

Verona educators are trying to allay concerns among parents and teachers about the test. They are holding information sessions at the schools for parents, and will have a general presentation on February 24 by the executive director of the New Jersey School Board Association. There is also a page on the PARCC on the school district Web site.

DeOld wanted to know about the repercussions on Verona if the district tries to opt out of the PARCC, as some districts are trying to do. “The only people more stressed out than parents and teachers about the PARCC are school boards because we are being forced to do something that we don’t believe is sensible, rational or thought out,” said BOE President John Quattrocchi, who voiced a number of concerns about the state’s lack of preparation for the test. Quattrocchi said the PARCC, in its current form, will “collapse”, and noted that this year’s scores will not count for student records or graduation requirements. He said that the BOE has been advised by its lawyers that it cannot refuse to administer the test, because it would risk a loss of state aid and be subject to county or state takeover, which could include the firing of our superintendent. “We would be going through all that,” Quattrocchi said, “for a test that doesn’t matter.”

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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. Unfortunately I was not able to make the BOE meeting but I think the PARCC testing (or any type of high stakes testing) is worth fighting against. Maybe the test doesn’t matter this year, but then why are we choosing to put our children through the emotional stress and frustration? In the end we sacrifice education and our children’s well-being. To me, that’s worth fighting for. After all, isn’t that what we are here for…to educate children?

  2. This test does matter! It is driving the curriculum! Our children are losing valuable instructional time being prepped for this test. Young children are totally stressed out and feeling like failures because they are being asked to do developmentally inappropriate tasks in ELA and Math as part of the Common Core curriculum. (BTW, NO developmental experts were willing to sign off on the Common Core!) Our children, as young as third grade, will be sitting in front of a computer taking the PARCC for 8-10 hours. This is longer than the NJ Bar exam! Third graders must TYPE fully edited essays without any clarification or assistance from their teachers! Not only that but massive amounts of data is being collected on our children without our consent. Pearson will have our children’s name, date of birth, and a unique identification number etc. that will follow them throughout their educational career. All of this matters!

    If you’re not convinced try the practice tests! http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/

  3. The NJDOE appears to be giving misinformation to districts. In this case, that the PARCC test does not count this year, which is not accurate.

    The PARCC will count this year for students, teachers and schools.

    For students, the PARCC scores on the high school tests (ELA 9,10,11 & Alg I & II, Geometry) will be used as a graduation “standard” for all high school students. The NJ DOE says that PARCC scores are not a “requirement” but acknowledges that those scores will be used to make “graduation determinations.”

    For teachers, PARCC SCORES will count towards teacher evaluations. Median SGPs will be calculated for math & ELA teachers in grades 4-8 and PARCC will count as 10% of teachers’ overall rating for 2014-2015.

    For schools, this year’s PARCC results will be a baseline for school performance targets and reports.

  4. It is because of my extreme concern about the direction and quality of education in Verona due to the Common Core curriculum, and the undeniable truth that teachers are being forced to teach to the PARCC test, that I write today.

    The edict set forth requiring all students take this un-tested test has radically changed my children’s school experience; removing all creativity from how they are taught and all discovery from how they are learning. I quote my children (typical learners who consistently score well) “Mom, I hate school now. It’s always all about the test.” I can only imagine how atypically learners feel as they are repeatedly forced to follow procedures that confuse and frustrate; all because a group of reformist non-educators has deemed this un-researched curriculum and test necessary for career and college readiness. How career and college readiness is even relevant to an elementary or middle-school student has yet to proven. This is a crime. There are too many curious and clever minds being told their creative solutions are wrong and too many wonderful and caring teachers who’s hands are bound by this developmentally inappropriate curriculum.

    Furthermore, continuing to say that federal funding binds Verona to this curriculum and the un-tested PARCC is fundamentally wrong. The threat of federal funding being withdrawn because less than 95% of the student body participated in the PARCC applies only to Title I schools, of which Verona is not. I respectfully ask that those in positions of leadership stop furthering the misconception that Verona would suffer financial consequences if our BOE supported parents who are asking for an opt-out plan. Precedent has been set in Bloomfield and Delran, with Montclair poised to follow.

    As for the BOE being advised we risk losing our superintendent should an opt-out plan be implemented, I remind everyone that, with no disrespect to Mr. Dionisio who I’m certain wants success for all Verona students, history can predict his tenure will be brief.

  5. Although superintendents have come and gone rather quickly, my hope is that Mr. Dionisio’s tenure in Verona will not be brief. He has a vested interest in our district and I believe the character to uphold the mission of our schools. Now if we can all work together to be proactive against the PARCC rather than reactive to its affects on our children and teachers…Verona should take a stand.

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