Education

Assembly Education Committee Approves PARCC Bills

ef4f4dc26bd5bcad2b23_PARCC.png
ef4f4dc26bd5bcad2b23_PARCC.png

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Beginning March 2, students in 3rd through 11th grade throughout the state will take the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) standardized tests. The new ‘high quality, computer-based assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy’ has been met with conflicting reviews and widespread controversy.

On Feb. 12, the bipartisan Assembly Education Committee unanimously approved two bills: A4190, which would delay the education department’s use of PARCC results for student placement for three years, and A3079, which would prohibit standardized exams, with exceptions, from being administered before third grade. Testimonies on a third bill, A4165, which would set a state-wide policy allowing families to opt-out of PARCC testing and require districts to offer alternative activities for students who refuse, were also heard at Thursday’s hearing.

Designed to align with the new Common Core standards, the PARCC assessments were crafted to give schools, teachers, students and parents better and more useful information on how kids are prepared for their futures. PARCC is making its debut in New Jersey and 11 other states in the 2014-2015 school year; locally it will replace the NJASK (grades 3-8) and HSPA (high school).

Sign Up for E-News

According to Paul Rakalowski, South Plainfield’s Director of Assessment, the district’s position on PARCC is similar to that of prior state assessments and will continue to be just one measure of student performance. “These reports will enable our staff to identify strengths and weaknesses at the most granular student level, which will further open the door for instructional discussions around student-centered learning and differentiated instruction,” Rakalowski said. “We are encouraged by what we've heard regarding the types of student reports we will receive [and] we look forward to having this information as it will help us make informed instructional decisions that benefit students.”

Opposition to the exams, however, is quite strong with many expressing concern over a variety of test factors, including but not limited to, length (up to 10+ hours over the course of several days), administration (computer- or tablet-based only), and content (grade and developmentally inappropriate) as well as what the results will and won’t be used for.

A primary sponsor of all three of the proposed bills, Assemblyman and Education Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) feels the aforementioned factors, among others; need to be ironed out before the results from the tests should be used. “PARCC testing rolled out too quickly and was implemented without input from teachers, parents or others involved in the education process,” he said. “There is so much confusion.”

Diegnan, a South Plainfield resident, continued, "We need to have a benchmark to gauge our students statewide, nationwide and even internationally. We need to know what are students are achieving and not achieving and we need ways to evaluate our schools but, in the case of PARCC, we put the cart before the horse."

Bill A4190 – Delaying the Results

Bill A4190 stipulates that, for the 2015-2016 through 2017-2018 school years, the PARCC assessments may not be used to determine a student’s placement in a gifted and talented program, another program or intervention, grade promotion, as the state graduation proficiency test, any other school or district-level decision that affects students, or as part of any evaluation rubric submitted to the commissioner of education for approval. While the exams would still be administered, student results would be suspended and the exams treated, for three years, as a pilot program.

 “The tests would still be administers but that period would provide an opportunity to evaluate the test, collect information, see what works and what doesn’t and make the appropriate adjustments,” said Diegnan. “Let’s take a time out and really evaluate what we have. These tests are too important and we need time to get things straight.

Bill A3079 – Protecting Students in K-2

Bill A3079 states a school district may not administer “commercially-developed standardized assessments” – an assessment that requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from a common bank of questions, in the same manner, and is developed and scored by an entity under a contract with a board of education – to students in kindergarten through 2nd grade; the bill, however, would not preclude a classroom teacher or a board of education from developing, administering, and scoring an assessment in kindergarten through the second grade.

Bill A4165 – The Option to Opt-Out

Discussion over the third bill presented at last Thursday’s hearing is generating the most attention. Bill A4165, if approved, would allow families the option to not participate in the administration of a PARCC assessment and require the district/charter school to provide educationally appropriate alternative activities – in a room other than where the assessments are being administered – during testing.

Under bill, districts/charter schools would also required to let families know, by Sept. 30 of each school year, when PARCC assessments will be administered and parents/guardians would be required to notify the district of their child's refusal in writing no later than 14 days before the assessment.

The PARCC assessment is part of the state required educational program and New Jersey currently does not have a ‘opt-out’ provision. New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:8-4.1 requires districts to test students present during exams, however, districts cannot force a child to sit in the room and do nothing, otherwise known as ‘sit and stare.’ Additionally, PARCC protocol prohibits those not taking the assessment from being in the room with students who are taking the test. Under the current code, districts must provide a safe alternative location for test refusers but are not required to provide alternative educational activities.

With no statewide policy in place, the education department is encouraging school districts to rely on discipline and attendance policies when addressing situations that may arise on assessment days leading to close to 140 of the state’s nearly 600 school districts to implement their own ‘opt-out’ policies over the past few months. As of press time, South Plainfield was not one of them.

“We continue to remain current with all New Jersey Department of Education, which indicate the federal requirement that all students take the assessment. As a result of this requirement, as well as the consequences should we fail to meet the requirement, we have scheduled students as we have in the past with all state assessments,” said Rafalowski, adding, “Since there is no opt-out, we have chosen instead to focus our efforts on ensuring the assessment functions smoothly for our students, via the scheduling and training that has occurred throughout the year.”

The Next Step

Bill A4190 and A3079 must next be reviewed and approved by the Senate Assembly Committee. A vote on A4165 is expected to take place next month, giving the Assembly Education Committee time to iron out the specifics, including whether or not the state could be penalized for the refusals. 

State law requires testing of public school students and, to qualify for federal funding under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools must test 95 percent of students in selected grades. In the past, the federal government has issued warnings or even rescinded millions in grant money to states that failed to follow through on their commitment to the new testing. Additionally, in 2012, New Jersey sought a waiver from previous federal rules under the Act and committed to using PARCC testing to evaluate teachers and schools.

“I am confident this is resolvable,” Diegnan said. “I hope and expect it be voted on and passed when the committee meets again in March.”

Before either bill can be enacted, it must pass both the full Assembly and the full Senate and be signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. Once signed, the bill goes into effect immediately.

“In fairness, when first proposed, there was general support for [the PARCC assessments] but as they rolled out, the tests have become a nightmare on all levels. We have come to realize they are more ominous than anyone expected,” said Diegnan. “The good news is these bills unanimously passed in committee and have both Democrat and Republican support.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

The Athlete of the Week: Jillian Holoboski Softball Pitcher

The South Plainfield Softball Team had an exciting week of action where the team saw Coach Panzarella break the all-time win total in NJ. The Lady Tigers got things rolling by defeating John F. Kennedy 3-2 on Monday.  South Plainfield then traveled to Perth Amboy for a night double header and crushed the Panthers 14-0.  On Wednesday they beat Colonia 5-1. The competition for the week ...

Holy Savior Academy Presents ‘The Sound of Music,’ Eighth Graders Inducted into Thespian Society 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club performed 'Getting to Know: The Sound of Music' on May 3 and May 4. 

Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club just finished its fourth year and has performed six shows. The Drama Club is run under the direction of Susan Loughlin, Daneile Micale and Eva Tripodi. This year’s production, which featured a cast ...

Obituaries

Mario Guido Abbruzzese, 70, died on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at St. Peter’s University ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Recreation Commission President Responds to Council Candidate Keefe

May 18, 2018

My name is Bill Cochrane and I am President of the South Plainfield Recreation Commission. A press release from Borough Council Candidate Kristine Keefe has recently come to our attention. In her press release Ms. Keefe states and I quote “Over the last eight years virtually nothing has been done to improve our parks and recreation program.” When this was brought to our attention at ...

Colin Berry and Cody Decker Earn Bachelor Degrees from Rowan University

May 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Colin Berry and Cody Decker, both of South Plainfield, received Bachelor degrees from Rowan University last week during commencement exercises.  Both young men are 2014 graduates of South Plainfield High School.  

 

Berry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and was awarded to the Deans List for the fifth time.  He served as ...

Community Happenings

JOHN E. RILEY’S 1ST ANNUAL FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!

 

Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

The South Plainfield "Autism Awareness" Event

May 8, 2018

The South Plainfield Mayor’s Wellness Committee and the South Plainfield Public Library in conjunction with community volunteers hosted the Borough’s first Autism Awareness event at the South Plainfield Public Library on Sunday April 29, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. This “Afternoon of Awareness” was designed to help connect parents with important resources in order to help ...

Plainfield Animal Hospital

On Friday, April 20th, 2018, a South Plainfield resident responded to South Plainfield Police Department to report a fraudulent incident which occurred at Plainfield Animal Hospital, located at 2201 Park Ave, South Plainfield, NJ.  According to the victim, on April 4th, 2018, she and her husband brought their   family pet rabbit to the animal hospital to be euthanized due to the ...

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ab0daccbb8f6d7b44e6b_img_4053

Sun, May 20, 1:00 PM

Open House, Edison

24 Orchard Street, Edison NJ- Open House

Real Estate

Carousel_image_2bbfb9afd63a2d1a1dcd_spb-4923_newsletter_may_20

Sun, May 20, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Long Island Ducks Baseball ...

Carousel_image_7404378997e153424227_spsa_tryout_flyer_2018-2019-page-001

Mon, May 21, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...

Carousel_image_7404378997e153424227_spsa_tryout_flyer_2018-2019-page-001

Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...

Carousel_image_09c0665ea9d03afcd34d_spb-4923_newsletter_may_22

Tue, May 22, 6:30 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Sugar Land Skeeters ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports

Carousel_image_7404378997e153424227_spsa_tryout_flyer_2018-2019-page-001

Wed, May 23, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...

Columns

Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.

 

“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

South Plainfield Motor Vehicle Office Tentatively Scheduled to Open May 21st

Dear Mayor:

I would like to provide you with an update regarding the Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC) new, modernized South Plainfield Agency.  At this juncture, if we receive the Certificate of Occupancy on Friday, May 11, as expected, the anticipated “soft opening” to the public will be Monday, May 21, 2018. 

We will schedule a ceremonial ribbon cutting shortly ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

Bookmarks

And here is (ACHOO!!) some more (ACHOO!!) news from (COUGH!!) South Plainfield Library:

            First, our previously-postponed Holi program, celebrating the Indian festival of colors, has been postponed again.  Due to predicted inclement weather, it has been rescheduled to Saturday, July 21st, from 11AM to 1PM.  Let’s ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Has A Successful Fundraising Year!

After what can easily be described as a successful fund-raising year, The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield met on May 3rd at the American Legion Hall in South Plainfield to decide how to allocate the funds that were raised.  President Diana Cotone called the meeting to order and thanked April Bengivenga and Joyce Dieterle for the delicious refreshments provided.

The ...

Press Releases

Rotary Club to Hold 91st Annual Track and Field Meet

May 15, 2018

North Plainfield, NJ -The oldest service club of the three Plainfield's will hold their most important annual community service project on June 6 at the Hub Stine Athletic Complex in Plainfield.

Long a mainstay in supporting the North Plainfield and Plainfield communities, the Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield will offer an afternoon of friendly but determined competition to young ...