The NJ DOE Tries to Hide the Truth About the Failure of PARCC from the Public

Nov 2, 2015 by


On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released the results of PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) tests administered last March and May to public school students in grades 3 through 8. To no one’s surprise, the NJDOE announced New Jersey’s students are neither college nor career ready, and only through increased teaching to the PARCC test will students be successful post high school. Despite the ever-diminishing PARCC Consortium, (7 member states now vs. the original 24), the NJDOE remains petulant in its misguided allegiance to the meaningless PARRC test.

The NJDOE chose to roll out New Jersey’s dismal PARCC results during an invitation only press conference conducted on private property. Such arrangements provided the shield the NJDOE needed in the face of increasing parental backlash, and to continue its false narrative that New Jersey’s high school graduation requirements are not rigorous.

The media was present at the press conference – as were members of business groups, the New Jersey PTA, and some colleges that have joined together to try to convince an increasingly skeptical and informed public that PARCC tests are neither reliable nor valid measures of our students’ abilities. Also attending were members of We Raise NJ, a coalition of Trenton insiders.

Unwelcome at the press conference was the public to whom the NJDOE should be accountable. This is the same public that pays the salaries of NJDOE staff; ponied up hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with the unfunded mandates of the previously untested and untried CCSS and PARCC; and whose children’s test scores were first put on display solely for the press and highly selective invited guests.

On the morning of the press conference, a member of Save Our Schools New Jersey (SOS NJ) called the NJDOE press office to inquire about attending. The press office staff member stated he did not know if a press conference was being held that day, but said he would find out and get back to her. A response was never received. Since then, we have learned that NJDOE staff chastised certain members of the press for letting the public know about the press conference. This behavior and secrecy are unacceptable! Where is the transparency? What is the NJDOE trying to hide and why?

The press conference was held at the headquarters of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company in West Trenton. Private security ensured only invited guests were permitted entry. As Trenton has no shortage of public spaces to hold press conferences, we firmly believe this was a deliberate attempt to exclude the public and parents. Surrounded by a friendly audience, the NJDOE was free to spin its grave message about how New Jersey students have failed in light of PARCC results, versus how the tests have failed the students, and how such tests tell nothing about student achievement – and will not for years. The presentation was short on details, providing scores only by grade level, and with no information about the huge number of students who refused to take the test.

The NJDOE and the Christie administration have a history of disregarding the public. For example, the “Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey”, was to submit its final report to the Governor by July 31, 2015. Yet, despite 300 written and oral comments from the public about Common Core and PARCC during the Study Commission’s listening tour, the Study Commission has not reflected on any of that public testimony, nor has it issued its report. Further, the New Jersey State Board of Education (NJSBOE), that oversees the work of the NJDOE, only allows the public four opportunities per year to speak on a topic of the public’s choosing. At best, less than half of the NJSBOE participates in these public sessions.

Answers are needed to the following questions:

1. Who decided this press conference announcing PARCC results would be closed to the public?

2. Why was the public excluded?

3. What is the refusal rate by grade level?

4. How much money have local school districts in New Jersey spent to comply with PARCC, and how much more funding will be needed in the next five years?

The good news is the public rejects the narrative of the NJDOE that a high stakes standardized tests like PARCC is the only way to measure a student’s ability to succeed in college or career – let alone enjoy productive, creative lives.

It’s time for a meaningful, positive, truthful, and transparent correction in the way the true purpose of education is encouraged and succeeds in the State of New Jersey. The Governor of New Jersey currently appoints both the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education and all members of the New Jersey State Board of Education. This autonomous system is responsible for a State Department of Education that largely disregards and disrespects public and parental input. The current result is devastating to students, public education, and the exciting future of New Jersey.

Susan Cauldwell is a volunteer with Save Our Schools NJ, an all-volunteer organization whose nearly 30,000 members believe that every child should have access to a high quality public education. She is also the Executive Director of Save Our Schools NJ Community Organizing, a 501(c)(3) non-profit created by Save Our Schools NJ volunteers to support parent organizing across the state.

Carolee Adams is the State President of Eagle Forum of New Jersey, part of a nationwide pro-family, volunteer organization existing since 1972. Eagle Forum supports parents’ rights to guide the education of their children; publishes the nationally distributed Education Reporter; and opposes unconstitutional, national standards and assessments manifested in Common Core/PARCC. Carolee was also a member of the press to the National Governors Association Summit on Education when ACHIEVE was formed; a former business director for a leading financial corporation; and a current Bergen County NJ Republican Committeewoman.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email