MORRISTOWN, NJ - The New Jersey Assembly Education Committee voted 11-1(abstention) to overturn the PARCC graduation requirement. The resolution now moves to the full Assembly for a vote. If this resolution passes both houses, the state DOE will have 30 days to come up with a correction. If the bill passes both houses, ACR 215 will not require the signature of Governor Chris Christie to become law.
The testimony focused on the fact that the state's requirement of passing PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers) violates New Jersey law which states that students must show proficiency in 11th grade on a basic skills exam. What the state has imposed violates that concept on two levels: PARCC tests higher learning skills, not basic skills, and the courses for which the state is requiring proficiency are taken in lower grades (not 11th).
The New Jersey Assembly Education Committee heard the bill today (ACR 215) to eliminate the PARCC graduation requirement, addressing a deep concern for many parents and students. PARCC is the commercially-produced bank of assessments from Pearson Education.The resolution would prevent PARCC from being a graduation requirement, though it may still continue as a form of standardized assessment.
In a press release, the Education Law Center presented the following view: "The Commissioner and State Board acted beyond their legal authority in instituting new rules that do not conform to the specific requirements in the state law governing graduation testing. For example, the statute explicitly requires that all students be given an eleventh-grade graduation exam. The PARCC tests designated by the new rules as graduation exams are not 11th grade tests. This change is particularly harmful to students who are learning English, because they have less time to gain language proficiency before being tested. State education officials have no authority to enact rules that contradict the express mandates of the Legislature."
The fact that PARCC may not be a graduation requirement may significantly affect the number of students, especially in Grade 11, who participate in the assessment, both in Morristown and statewide.