Steinhauer urges PARCC delay and study

Bill unanimously passes Assembly committee

Published on Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wendell SteinhauerThe Assembly Education Committee today unanimously released A-3081. The bill addresses concerns of the NJEA leaders, members and staff regarding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exams, and the new teacher evaluation regulations.

The bill, a substitute that includes key provisions of other bills proposing a delay in the implementation of the CCSS, PARCC exams, and certain aspects of the new teacher evaluation system, now includes five Republican co-sponsors.

NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer testified in favor of the bill. After citing examples of problems with the PARCC trial this spring, Steinhauer urged legislators to pass the bill and slow down the headlong rush toward implementation of the new testing. “Before we go further, we must determine whether the huge investment of time and resources required to implement PARCC can be justified educationally,” Steinhauer told legislators. “There is growing evidence that it cannot.”

Steinhauer also cited a recent policy statement by the American Statistical Association that strongly cautions against using student test scores in teacher evaluations in the way that New Jersey proposes with its student growth percentiles (SGPs). “Before we put students’ education and educators’ careers on the line over standardized tests, shouldn’t we at least be sure that they measure what they claim to measure?” Steinhauer asked legislators.

Steinhauer closed with a call for legislators to act decisively. “Make it explicitly clear to the Department of Education that it not only has the opportunity but also the directive to slow down its headlong rush to implement PARCC for next year,” he told the committee. “Send a clear message that you expect the department to learn more about these tests and how they are used, and to make sure that the educational needs of students come before the policy desires of adults.”

What’s in the bill

A-3081 calls for a variety of measures to ensure that any implementation of new standards, testing, and teacher evaluation is carried out thoughtfully. This bill includes:

  • An Education Reform Review Task Force to look at how the CCSS are being implemented, use of PARCC assessments, and the implementation and potential effects of the teacher evaluation system. NJEA would be represented on this task force.
  • Student growth percentiles (SGPs) to not be included in the annual summative ratings of teachers for at least two years.
  • Giving districts the option to administer the PARCC assessment online or by pencil and paper, or a combination of both during the two-year period after passage of the bill.
  • Stops the New Jersey Department of Education from using the PARCC assessment for student or school accountability purposes for at least two years after passage of the bill.

“This move will give us more time to assess what's going on statewide in terms of implementation and evaluation capabilities,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, a primary sponsor of the bill. “Two major concerns from administrators, teachers and parents alike is all the time being spent preparing for testing and the lack of hardware capacity to conduct both the testing and evaluations.”

Bill includes new sponsors

A-3081 enjoys support from both sides of the aisle.

It is sponsored by Assembly members Mila Jasey, D-Essex; Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex; Sheila Oliver, D-Essex; Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Mercer; Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic; and Charles Mainor, D-Hudson.

Co-sponsors so far include Assembly members Chris Brown, R-Atlantic; Ralph Caputo, D-Essex; Angel Fuentes, D-Camden; Gordon Johnson; D-Bergen; Sean Kean, R-Monmouth; Alison Littell McHose, R-Sussex; John McKeon, D-Morris; David Rible, R-Monmouth; Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen; Parker Space, R-Sussex; Linda Stender, D-Union; Shavonda Sumter, D-Passaic; and Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex.

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