NEWARK, NJ - State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz said Friday she is "disappointed" with Gov. Murphy's decision to change the way PARCC assessments are used in teachers' evaluations.

The governor announced Friday that his Department of Education reduced the PARCC assessment to count for only five percent of a teacher’s evaluation — a move supported by the New Jersey Education Association, which endorsed Murphy during the election.

Ruiz, in a joint statement with Senate President Steve Sweeney, said the Murphy administration is "walking away" from New Jersey's students.

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“We know teacher quality is the most impactful in-school factor affecting student achievement. That is why we were clear when developing TEACHNJ and working with all education stakeholders that student growth would have a meaningful place within evaluations," the lawmakers said in the statement.

Ruiz, who represents the 29th Legislative District, which includes portions of Newark and all of Belleville, is the chair of the Senate Education Committee.

"Reducing the use of Student Growth Percentile to five percent essentially eliminates its impact. It abandons the mission of TEACHNJ without replacing it with a substantive alternative. In fact, a 2018, a Rand study concluded that, ‘Teaching is a complex activity that should be measured with multiple methods.’ These include: student test scores, classroom observation, surveys and other methods," they said.

The PARCC test has been controversial since it was first introduced into New Jersey in 2014. Murphy has signaled his intention to move away from the PARCC tests and move to a "new generation" of standardized tests, though nothing has been proposed as of yet. 

The New Jersey Education Association, which represents the state's teachers, called Murphy's decision a "win." The NJEA said there is no evidence standardized test scores  serve a valid purpose in teacher evaluation.

"Today’s announcement is another step by Gov. Murphy toward keeping a campaign promise to rid New Jersey’s public schools of the scourge of high-stakes testing," the NJEA said in a statement. "While tens of thousands of families across the state have already refused to subject their children to PARCC, schools are still required to administer it and educators are still subject to its arbitrary effects on their evaluation. By dramatically lowering the stakes for the test, Murphy is making it possible for educators and students alike to focus more time and attention on real teaching and learning."

Sweeney and Ruiz said Murphy's announcement should not be viewed as a win. They pointed out that this is the second time Murphy has lowered standards for education professionals and students. 

"This is a victory for special interests and a huge step backward towards a better public education in New Jersey,” the lawmakers said.

"We look forward to the department providing data as to why these decisions are being made and how they will benefit our children," the lawmakers said. "Every child deserves a teacher who advances their academic progress and prepares them for college and career readiness. We must provide the data and resources for all our teachers to excel and ensure every student has the opportunity to realize their fullest potential."