EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The East Brunswick Board of Education passed a resolution Thursday night to requesst that the New Jersey Dpeartment of Education postpone the use of the PARCC assessments as a graduation requirement until the implementation of the test has been reconsidered and benchmarks have been established.
The resolution comes in the wake of two years of parental protests within the district; the refusal of testing by a large percentage of students; ineffective rollout of testing procedures; statewide and national concerns about the substance of the standardized tests; and curricular havoc driven by the need to address testing and the technological requirements for implementing it.
The premise of the resolution was that PARCC is an untested test – one that has established no solid benchmarks to indicate student achievement – yet one that was deemed to be a responsible indicator of graduation readiness.
The EB BOE resolution requested that a “multi-year transition period” be established by the New Jersey Department of Education to allow students to graduate on the basis of credits earned, grade-point average, and attendance until the PARCC, or any assessment used as a graduation requirement, has been implemented enough times to create an accurate reference pool for scores that indicate academic achievement.
The resolution also calls for a “broad public dialogue among stakeholders to develop a new consensus” about the transparency and equity of any test used with such great power.
To the applause of parents gathered at the meeting, the East Brunswick Board of Education unanimously supported the resolution. At the same time, the Livingston Public Schools, home district of testing supporter Governor Chris Christie, adopted a similar resolution regarding PARCC. East Brunswick is now one of 13 districts that have adopted such resolutions: East Windsor, Highland Park, Hopewell Valley, Clifton, Bloomfield, Washington Township (Gloucester,) Bridgewater-Raritan, Princeton, Paterson, Collingswood, and the Middlesex County Educational Resource Center.
Board members Vicki Becker and Dr. Brad Cohen thanked the BOE for pulling together and to create and approve the resolution. Becker said, “The East Brunswick Public Schools show a passion to motivate and enrich our children… The Board of Education has definitely considered the issue and crafted a resolution that reflects East Brunswick and the excellence of the work accomplished by our students and our incredible staff.”
Parent activist Jodi Hoover acknowledged, “This was a local victory for East Brunswick. I hope that East Brunswick encourages more districts to work toward this goal.”
The adoption of the resolution follows an extended period of protest against the over-use of standardized testing as the main gauge of student achievement locally and nationally. The document has been sumitted to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education and other regulatory bodies within the state and county for review.