UPDATE & ACTION: @GovMurphy Promised To Ditch #PARCC. Is He Going Back On His Word?

Marie Corfield is a public ed advocate, art teacher, and former Democratic Assembly candidate. Follow her here. Promoted by Rosi.

UPDATE 1:30pm: I’ve just been told that there have been more than 1,000 emails to New Jersey legislators since this morning. The Governor is also listening. His number is 609-292-6000.

UPDATE & Action Alert

Last week I wrote about S-3381, Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s bill to change the state’s high school graduation requirements that, if signed into law, could have a devastating effect on thousands of New Jersey high school seniors. 

S-3381 now has a companion Assembly bill. A-4957 was posted by Assembly Education Chair Pamela Lampitt, although as of this writing, it has not been assigned to a committee. The Senate bill will be heard in the Senate Budget & Appropriations meeting that begins today noon. [You can listen live at the Legislature’s media page; as we publish this, the session is late in starting. Refresh the media page often till the status changes from Pending to Listen. – ed]

All of this is moving very quickly, and for no good reason. Both bills are expected to be voted on by the full legislature this week, so quick action is needed (see below for specific action items).

Save Our Schools NJ posted an extensive update this weekend. You can read the full text here. These are the main concerns: 

The NJ Appellate Court indicated that the current high school graduation testing requirements, which were imposed by the Christie Administration in 2016 and ruled illegal by the Court on December 31, 2018, will stay in effect until the Court rules on the Murphy Administration’s request that all current juniors and seniors who had partially or fully met those requirements by December 30 2018 be allowed to graduate under the testing options specified in those requirements. In its December 31 ruling, the court had originally indicated that the Christie graduation requirements would be struck down as of January 31. Those testing requirements are available here.

If the Court does not grant the Murphy Administration’s request regarding current seniors and juniors, there would need to be some other way for those students to meet the high school graduation testing requirements. If the Court grants the Administration’s request to allow current seniors and juniors to graduate under the Christie 2016 regulations, that problem would be solved. 
Currently, NJ law requires students to take a single 11th grade basic skills test of English and math in order to graduate. The Ruiz bill would require students to take as many standardized tests as imposed by the NJ Department of Education and for those tests to be a demonstration of “college and career readiness,” even though many students do not intend to go to college and even though this terminology is vague enough to allow a gubernatorial Administration to abuse it. The Ruiz bill also requires students to take the college and career tests before they qualify for any other graduation options, which could force current seniors to take PARCC 10th grade ELA and Algebra 1 tests in order to graduate. (emphasis mine)

With the additional time granted by the Appellate Court, there is no need to rush this legislation through. These bills would be a substantial change that is likely to have a major negative impact on our children. They should not be pushed through with back room deals, as is currently happening. Parents, students and other education advocates should be able to testify and the legislature should understand the broad-reaching consequences of these bills before they vote to impose them on our children. (emphasis mine)

Here’s why we need to fight the Ruiz/Lampitt bills:

  • This would be a major change in our law with no study of the impact on kids or costs to districts
  • Doubles down against the promise made by Gov. Murphy to end high school exit testing
  • Leaves the class of 2021 and beyond without a clear path to graduation
  • It’s unclear if the bill actually protects the classes of 2019 and 2020. As written, they may have to take PARCC in order to graduate.

Here’s why we need to support S-558/A-672, posted by Sen. Nia Gill and Asw. Mila Jasey respectively:

  • They provide immediate relief to all current high school students
  • They provide breathing room for the NJDOE to come up with a new assessment system. The current 40-year-old statute has never been reviewed.
  • They provide time for the legislature to hold hearings on the use of high school exit tests. Research since the 1970’s shows that exit testing is very bad for low-income students, students of color, English language learners and students with disabilities. 
  • Only 12 states have some form of exit testing; it is not federally mandated
  • More tests = more money spent 

Take Action Today!

Gov. Murphy’s office does not believe there will be parent backlash on the Ruiz bill. But, people who’ve already called his office are reporting frazzled staffers on the other end of the line. 

  • Keep calling the Governor’s Office: 609-292-6000. Tell him #KeepYourWord: veto S-3381/A-4957 and support S-558/A-672.
  • Tweet @GovMurphy. Tell him #KeepYourWord: veto S-3381/A-4957 and support S-558/A-672.
  • Call Speaker Coughlin’s regional office: 732-855-7441. Tell him to support S-558/A-672 and reject S-3381/A-4957.
  • Tweet @SpeakerCoughlin. Tell him to support S-558/A-672 and reject S-3381/A-4957. 
  • Call your state reps. Tell them to reject S-3381/A-4957 and support S-558/A-672. Find yours here.
  • Share this post and encourage others to take action as well

Comments (2)

  1. RationalNJ

    For the amount of money being spent, there should be some accountability. I know, I know, the NJEA doesn’t want any accountability. But NJ needs an educated workforce for it to remain economically competitive and to fund all the progressive policies we would like to have. It’s in our children’s best interests for there to be graduation tests.

  2. Marie Corfield

    That’s not true. If NJEA didn’t “want any accountability” the state wouldn’t consistently rank in the top 2 or 3 states in the country in terms of quality public education. NJ has a highly educated workforce in no small part because overall we have excellent schools and highly qualified teachers.

    NJEA believes in assessments that are age- and subject-appropriate, developed by educators, are peer reviewed, and subject to trial runs–in other words, quality assessments.

    PARCC is anything but. It was never intended to be used as a diagnostic test. It was never peer reviewed, and the questions that were released to the general public were several grade levels above the grade being tested. There are more than one right answers for some of the questions, and some even went as far as to insert product branding into the questions.

    Students with special needs are given no other accommodations than extra time to take the test. English language learners have to take it in English. About half of all students taking the test do not pass it. That’s not a sign of poor teaching, it’s a sign of a bad test.

    NJ requires only an 11th grade basic skills test for graduation. PARCC is not that. PARCC cannot measure a child’s success in college. High school GPAs are the best indicator of that, yet since No Child Left Behind, we continue to force more and more standardized testing on our students. Test prep takes away valuable teaching and learning time.

    The state needs to slow down, bring stakeholders to the table, evaluate the existing law and pass legislation that is in the best interest of ALL students.


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