Education

Careful Navigation Needed: PARCC Testing is the Tip of the Iceberg

"Defies Measurement" has been shown in venues around Middlesex County to inform community members about the possible outcomes of standardized testing. Credits: Vimeo
Local residents view and discuss the documentary "Defies Measurement" at the EBPL. Credits: www.defiesmeasurement.com

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -  In an effort to inform parents and members of the public about the possible extended dangers behind PARCC testing and other high-stakes tests that consume a great deal of student time and teacher energy in our public schools, the Middlesex County Education Association has launched an advocacy campaign in local communities to provide insight into the direction being taken by schools that are required by the state to use commercially-developed, online assessments.  Results from these tests impact not only student placement, graduation, and self-esteem, but also teacher evaluation, training, and retention, say opponents.

At the East Brunswick Public Library last week, representatives from the New Jersey Education Association met with members of the East Brunswick community to view the film Defies Measurement (full video is also attached here) and to discuss the larger story behind standardized testing and its impact on the direction of our overall educational system.

Defies Measurement tells the story of Chipman Middle School in Alameda County, California and the journey of the staff and students from impactful experiential learning environment to one driven by the need to achieve improved standardized testing results.

Sign Up for E-News

The basic theme of the film is that testing is "squeezing the life out of education" and "has taken away the joy and art of teaching."  In the film, Diane Ravitch, noted education historian from New York University, references Campbell's Law, a principle that suggests that any time a measurement becomes too important, it is bound to fail.  Ravitch also credits the development of charter schools with drawing funds and energy from the public schools.  

An additional focus of the film is the effect of poverty on American education and the high cost of educational testing.  According to statistics presented in the film, the United States spent $263 million on testing in 1997, moving upward to $2.46 billion in 2014.  Ravitch warned against trying to "do school reform on the cheap" for poor kids, saying that testing leads to tracking and does not address societal needs. 

In the film, director and author Shannon Puckett asserts that the "privitazation movement is based on using test data as a weapon against schools."  Chipman Middle School goes through transitions in the film, moving from a successful community school in a low-income neighborhood that is well-remembered by its articulate students in 2004 to an empty, closed charter school that has collapsed around testing in 2010.

Following the movie, Ted Tympanick, a representative of the Middlesex County Education Association, said that it is "very clear that the ulterior motive in the testing movement is to create schools that are outlets for companies to make a profit." Tympanick went on to describe the drive by Pearson Education ( the creators of the PARCC assessments) and other corporations to create a national school system based on "canned" curricula developed by the same people who design the tests to assess student achievement. 

Linking the "for-profit" motives behind commerical testing and the charter movement, an East Brunswick resident in the audience (who wished not to be identified) complained about the Hatikvah International Academy, a charter school in East Brunswick, saying "It is insane that a charter school can be better or provide more than the East Brunswick Schools can." Some residents and students who were present resented the amount of instructional time wasted on test preparation and the tests themselves.  Several community members encouraged parents to "Refuse the Test" formally by submitting their notices to school officials. 

Middlesex County Education Association Representative Deb Cornavaca added that the testing movement "uses strategies to divide students, teachers, and parents and creates a breakdown of solidarity" among stake-holders. She encouraged participants to visit the New Jersey Kids and Families website to learn more about the tests and what parents' options are.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of classroom and school climate caused by the intense focus on the testing.  "I spend to much time thinking about the tests and too much time taking them, " said one East Brunswick student present at the meeting.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

National Autism Awareness Month

Autism is becoming more prevalent in our communities. The Centers for Disease Control report that as of 2016, autism is diagnosed in one of every 68 births in the United States. When a neighbor, a family friend or a new addition to your own family is diagnosed with autism, it’s crucial that we understand how to relate to them and give them our support. This April, I ask you to support ...

The American Conference on Diversity Welcomes D&I Leader Gloria McDonald to the Staff

April 27, 2017

The American Conference on Diversity is pleased to announce the addition of Gloria McDonald to the staff. In her role as Associate Administrator, she will oversee daily operations and help expand the statewide nonprofit’s diversity and inclusion education and training services.

“The American Conference on Diversity is excited to have Gloria’s expertise and extensive D&I ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_1e6ea69bd451bae56871_265164_216083901768222_5854253_n

Sat, April 29, 11:00 AM

Milltown Rescue Squad, Milltown

Milltown Rescue Squad Open House

Education Giving Back Health & Wellness Other Police & Fire

Carousel_image_157123b329dcd09e0f7a_lake_view

Sat, April 29, 12:00 PM

LakeView Day Camp, East Brunswick

LakeView Day Camp Open House

Education

Sat, April 29, 5:00 PM

Zarephath Christian Church, Zarephath (Somerset)

Into His Fields concert, featuring recording ...

Arts & Entertainment

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 2016)

 

What happens to us when we die? Does everything stop and our bodies just turn to dust? Or do our souls continue to exist in some ethereal form? Are we able to see what happens to our loved ones; are we reunited with those who have gone before us? This is just one of several intriguing themes that the delightful Fannie ...

Over 28k Join US Army Veterans to Lead Opposition Against Proposed GI Bill Tax

April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two US Army veterans have started a Care2 petition to oppose a proposed change to the GI Bill being considered by the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The proposal would require troops to pay more out of pocket to access their education benefits. Their petition opposing the proposal has gathered over 28,000 signatures.

VIEW THE CARE2 PETITION ...

East Brunswick Public Library Foundation Hosts Author Visit With New York Times Bestseller Stephanie Evanovich

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—The East Brunswick Public Library Foundation helps celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) with a special author program featuring New York Times bestseller Stephanie Evanovich on Sunday, May 7 at 2 pm.

Evanovich, a New Jersey-based author, will be discussing her three novels Big Girl Panties, The ...