West Orange Board of Education Meeting Updates Community on PARCC Pilots

Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Dr. Donna Rando, assistant superintendent of the West Orange School district, provided an update on the pilot PARCC testing at Hazel (Grade 3), Roosevelt (Grade 7), and West Orange High School (Grade 9) that was administered in late March.  

As reported by The Alternative Press on March 31, issues continue to mount with PARCC, and it remains unclear if the testing, set to replace the NJ ASK, will be ready to roll out in 2015. While Gov. Chris Christie reamins adamant that  New Jersey be ready to test with PARCC in 2015, developers of the the test itself acknowledge that flaws emerging as the results come in from pilot schools, coupled with the number of states participating not yet aligned with the new common core standards, pose problems that may delay the PARCC debut.  

In addition, the fact that the PARCC is an online test for grades 3 through high school, raises concerns for districts' abilities to purchase enough computers, laptops, and tablets to accomodate testing, and provide enough computer training for students to take the test online.

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Interim Superintendent James O'Neill noted that the number of participating states had dropped from 38 to 18 and that many parents have begun to 'keep their kids home' during state testing.

Approximately 80 school districts  were involved in the pilot testing, including West Orange.

Dr. Rando said that the three schools took "performance-based assessments" that included some writing. Although the tests were given to general education students, as asked by PARCC, special education students would be able to have additional time to complete the test.

In May, the second part of the PARCC pilot  will have students in Hazel, Mt. Pleasant (grade 5), and the high school (grade 10) take a series of EOY (End of Year) tests that will be multiple choice.

According to Rando, overall, the West Orange students and the school district had the resources (computers, etc.) available to test with and enough ability to take the tests, but that the issues came from errors and flaws with the PARCC itself, including errors in directions, prompts, and instructions.

Rando recommended a website: for parents to get an idea of the feedback coming in from pilot school districts.

In other news, Interim Superintendent O'Neill noted that the district will be holding its Bus Evacuation Drills this week, and reminded parents that next week, students will have no school April 14 and 15 for Spring Break, but will now have school April 16 and 17 to make up for snow days; and students will have no school on April 18 for Good Friday.

The next board meeting will be held on April 28, where the 2014-2015 school budget will be presented.


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