Future of PARCC in NJ Remains Unclear


ESSEX COUNTY AREA, NJ - As the first week of PARCC testing winds down, the future of the controversial standardized test in New Jersey education remains very much in question.

The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test is a standardized test that is aligned to the Common Core Standards first adopted by New Jersey in 2011. It ostensibly a more thorough and rigorous type of examination than previous statewide tests, such as the NJ ASK.

According to its official website, the PARCC test gives teachers, administrators and parents data that can determine “whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school.”

Sign Up for E-News

Parent and education groups have criticized the PARCC test for containing overly difficult and ambiguous questions, for detracting from regular instructional time and for putting undue pressure on students. The rollout and implementation of the test has also come under fire, as has the plan to use the data for teacher evaluation and student placement.

While there are implementation and technological issues specific to PARCC, concern over standardized testing and the prospect of over-testing in general have also been prevalent on parent Facebook groups including Livingston Opts Out, Opt Out NJ, Fairfield NJ Cares About Our SchoolsOpt Out Essex County, Opt Out NJ - Choose2Refuse, and more.

In February, the state General Assembly voted resoundingly (63 to 7) to delay using data from the tests in student and teacher evaluations until at least the 2018-19 school year. The bill must still be passed in the state Senate; the current plan is to implement evaluations starting in the 2015-16 school year.

Several area administrators expressed support for the measure put forth by the assembly.

Livingston Public Schools Interim Superintendent Jim O’Neill released a statement saying that using PARCC test results for even a partial evaluation of teachers would be educationally unsound and detrimental to the efforts of teachers and the instruction of students.

“To take this untested and unproven test and to use it to help evaluate teachers is not only a terrible disservice to the complexity of teaching but is an entirely inappropriate use of test results,” O’Neill said. “The key characteristics of great teachers are humanity, motivation, integrity, innovation, creativity, promoting self-learning; none of which is measured by the PARCC test.”

The Livingston Board of Education also passed a resolution that encouraged the state government and Department of Education to reconsider the implementation and organization of the test. The resolution also stated that the PARCC in its current form will not be used for teacher evaluation and student placement.

The resolution stated that “the rush to implement PARCC in an unreasonable timeframe has created organizational stresses including budgetary impacts, technological constraints, and reallocation of staff and other resources” and “PARCC preparation and administration will disrupt the school calendar and result in excessive reduced instructional time in the classroom.”

West Orange Superintendent of Schools Jeff Rutzky also said that he supported the measure to delay using the data in an evaluation capacity.

“There wasn’t a true pilot for the [PARCC tests] last year; we don’t know what the results are going to be,” Rutzky said. “I think a lot of the concern comes from the fact that PARCC is new. Anything new is challenging and scary. By making it a pilot for the first year, the unknown becomes less scary.”

Rutzky said that he believes PARCC data could eventually prove useful in teacher and student evaluation.

“As with anything, you have to adjust and tweak things. After two or three years, you should enough longitudinal data to use.”

When Rutzky spoke with TAP on Tuesday, he said that no problems had been reported as far as students actually taking the test. “Students were doing fine in the environment, they were comfortable with what they had to do. I spoke to the building principals and our technology director and everything was very smooth.”

“I think over-testing students is a very, very bad thing. We should look at the quality of assessments, not the quantity,” Rutzky said. “You have to see whether kids are making progress or not. I believe in quality assessments that can measure data to make instructional changes.”

The North Caldwell Board of Education devoted a recent meeting to allaying parental concerns regarding the test.

“Parents were very concerned about making sure that the schools appropriate managed expectations for the children,” North Caldwell Board of Education member Jann Skelton said.

“We really wanted to de-emphasize the importance of the test relative to the instruction the students receive,” Board member Rob Projansky said. “We hold very high standards for our children, but obviously we don’t want them to feel like this is the end of the world.”

The North Caldwell Board also struck a balance in attempting to dealt with parents who decided to not have their children take the test. The validity and legality of the “opt-out” movement has been a subject of discussion among teachers, parents and administrators Projansky said.

“Frankly, the [state] regulations are a little unclear about it works. They say that there is no official ‘opt-out’ policy, but by the same token it’s our responsibility to accommodate the wishes of parents,” Projansky said. “We can’t make a value judgement about whether opting-out is good or bad. It’s not up to us to opine on that.”

The North Caldwell Board elected to place non-testing students in a separate room from testing students. The non-testing students are permitted to bring homework or reading materials but do not receive any instruction.

While the immediate future and form of the PARCC test remains unclear, it remains likely that standardized tests will continue to play a role in educational evaluation.

“Standardized testing has been around for a very long time and it will be around for a very long time,” Rutzky said. “What we have to do is make sure that we’re not relying on tests too much. We have internal benchmarks we want to assess. In the end, the instruction is the most important thing.’

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Livingston Lacrosse Senior Jason Scher Named Athlete of the Week

April 20, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston High School senior Jason Scher has been named as TAPinto Livingston’s Athlete of the Week after scoring 14 goals and contributing 15 assists in his last five games—bringing him to a total of 35 points so far this season.

With Scher leading the pack, the Lancers are 5-2 after winning their last five consecutive games. Scher scored three ...

Livingston Fitness Crawl: Five Days of Free Classes at 12 Livingston Businesses

April 22, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The public is invited to enjoy one free class at as many of Livingston’s fitness businesses as they would like during this week’s Livingston Fitness Crawl, a Livingston Business Improvement District event, beginning on April 23 and continuing through April 27.

For five days, no purchase is necessary at the following locations:

BARRE3 ...

Full Pet Grooming Service 25% OFF

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Cloud Canine Grooming Salon & Spa in Little Falls is open for business and owner and pet stylist Melissa DiRoma is offering 25% off a FULL GROOMING SERVICE for all new customers. Call (973) 837-8884 or visit to schedule your appointment. Mention promo code TAP DOG for discount. 

About Cloud ...

Free Wellness Event at The Joint Chiropractic

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The public is invited to a "Wellness Event to Remember" at The Joint Chiropractic in West Caldwell on Thursday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to  9 p.m.

Guests will include:

Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab
Justyna Debski, owner of Revive Mind Body
Karen Caplan, owner of Nutrition Transitions

Join the ...

Luxury Facial Services 50% OFF

MILLBURN, NJ - DeAmour Salon & Spa is proud to announce its newest team member, Renee Rudikh, formerly of the famous Georgette Klinger Spa at the Short Hills Mall.

Rudikh has extensive experience and specializes in a plethora of facial styles including: deep pore cleansing/European, microdermabrasion with collagen, teenage, men's, back, LED and customized European ...

YMCA $0 Enrollment in April

LIVINGSTON, NJ - For the month of April, the West Essex YMCA is offer $0 enrollment. 

Take advantage of all that your local Y has to offer for the whole family!

Personal Training
Group Classes
Low monthly membership
And much much more!...

Check out all that the Y has to offer HERE

About the West Essex YMCA:
The West Essex YMCA has ...

MAX Challenge of West Orange - 2 Weeks FREE and more...

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The MAX Challenge of West Orange is about to start its next challenge.  Sign up before April 9, and you will receive maximum benefits, including two weeks free!



12 weeks for the price of 10
Unlimited fitness classes 
Nutritional ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, April 23, 1:30 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Monday at the Movies: LOVING VINCENT

Arts & Entertainment


Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Upcoming 2018 Spring SAT and ACT Courses


Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity


Essex County Executive Announces Improvements to County Parks System

April 22, 2018

ORANGE, NJ - Using the tennis courts in Essex County Irvington Park as the backdrop, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced last week that the tennis courts in Irvington Park and Weequahic Park, and the basketball courts in Ivy Hill Park and Monte Irvin Orange Park will receive facelifts with new asphalt playing surfaces, equipment and fencing. The project is part of ...

Abilities Expo 2018 Offers Resources for People With Special Needs

April 22, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston’s Abilities Expo 2018 will be held on Sunday, April 29, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Livingston High School. This family-friendly event showcases a variety of resources, products, services and technologies for people with special needs – all under one roof. The Expo is co-sponsored by Livingston Public Schools and the Livingston Advisory ...

Letter to the Editor: Don't Complain. Vote!

April 12, 2018

Don’t Complain; Vote!

It’s no secret that people have strong feelings about what’s happening in our country. It’s also true that much of politics is local. In November, 11th District residents will have the opportunity to choose a new congressional representative who will not only serve as a critical check on the federal level, but also determine how our distract fares ...

Cluelessly Clueless

I teenaged my way through high school under the assumption that my parents had no idea what I was doing.  I like to think I was pretty good at withholding information and presenting situations in ways that were other than they really were.


Still, sometimes they found things out.  Like the time my friends plopped me on our front door step at one o'clock in the morning ...