BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Board of Education began consideration of a resolution that will express to residents and state officials their disapproval of the upcoming PARCC testing, set to begin in March.
Board of Education member Jill Gladstone wrote a draft of a resolution, and board members discussed it at the Jan. 29 meeting.
“Other districts have put out resolutions,” she said. “I think it is a good idea for us to put a statement out there.”
The resolution as written sites the fact that there was a rush to implement the PARCC test in an unreasonably short time frame, which has caused budgetary impacts, technological constraints and more, while also causing reduced instructional time in the classroom.
Although members of the board expressed desires for certain word changes and more, the most discussion concerned a paragraph in Gladstone’s resolution concerning disciplinary action if parents exercise a right of refusal for their children to take the PARCC.
Other districts around the state have allowed students to opt out of the test, and Gladstone included a paragraph in the resolution that the board of education will respect the rights of parents and guardians to have their children refuse to take the test.
Board member Jeffrey Brookner said he had a specific problem with that paragraph.
“We don’t tell parents that if their students don’t want to take a class they don’t have to,” he said. “We have been told to administer the test, and it is not our role as a board member to say they don’t have to comply with state law.”
“If the state says you have to do it, I think you have to do it,” he added. “I feel strongly that we can’t say kids won’t be disciplined if they don’t comply with the state law.”
Superintendent of Schools Victor Hayek said that the current guidance for districts in the case of test refusal is to notify the test coordinator and the state.
“We have had five requests so far, and we are taking care of this on a case by case basis,” he said.
In response to a question from a parent about what will happen to a student whose parent has refused the test, Hayek said it will be handled on a case by case basis, depending on the classroom.
“We are required to administer the test,” he said. “They can read as long as they are not disrupting the class.”
One resident said she believes the PARCC refusal movement is growing quickly, especially in Bridgewater where students stand to lose up to 38 hours of instructional time during the testing period.
On Jan. 29, a bill was introduced in the State Assembly by Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) that would create a process for students to sit out of the PARCC test, as well as a timeline for families to give 14-day notice to opt out of the test while requiring schools to provide a supervised provision for opt-outs.
In addition to right of refusal issues, Gladstone said she is still concerned about information she has heard that PARCC scores will be included on transcripts in the future.
Steve Beatty, Bridgewater-Raritan High School teacher and president of the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association, said he is disappointed the board did not approve a resolution right away.
“I feel the board needs to reconsider and add in to the resolution that allows students to refuse without discipline and provides them an academic substitute,” he said. “The mission statement compels you to do what is right for the students.”