It’s time to com­pletely boy­cott the PARCC tests

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT -

School is back in ses­sion all over Mercer County and be­yond, and with it, comes my re­newed call to take a dump on the PARCC tests. A big stinker. Right on it. Just a big ol’ steamer.

Now yes - this fe­cal call is in­deed ju­ve­nile in na­ture and school­yard sca­tol­ogy at its most base, but re­ally, what choice have the pow­er­sthat-be left us?

And while I’m speak­ing metaphor­i­cally, the call is real: Ev­ery sin­gle New Jersey par­ent should boy­cott the PARCC test and not let their kids take it. It’s the only re­course for a sys­tem that’s run­ning over tax­pay­ers, stu­dents and teach­ers alike.

Led by Gov. Chris Christie and the re­cently stepped down Chief Dunce of the Divi­sion of Ed­u­ca­tion David He­spe, the PARCC tests have grown from “mild an­noy­ance” to “state sanc­tioned ter­ror­ism” over the sum­mer months.

Now yes - this “state sanc­tioned ter­ror­ism” busi­ness is hy­per­bolic in na­ture and school­yard scare tac­tics at its most base, but re­ally, what choice have the pow­ers-that-be left us?

In case you were busy en­joy­ing your sum­mer, here’s the two items on the PARCC agenda you need to get up to speed on …

1) As of 2021, high school stu­dents will need to pass the PARCC tests in or­der to get their diploma. As of now, only 44 per­cent of stu­dents pass the English part of the exam, and only 41 per­cent pass the math. Now I’m no math wizard, but as of now, it ap­pears as if 59 per­cent of New Jersey high school stu­dents would not be re­ceiv­ing their diplo­mas if the rules ap­plied this year. This seems … stupid. (Now yes, call­ing some­thing “stupid” is in­deed … etc. etc.)

2) How stu­dents do on the PARCC tests will now ac­count for up to 30 per­cent of a teacher’s eval­u­a­tion. All those wor­ries about “teach­ing to the test” are no longer wor­ries. If you’re a teacher, and 30 per­cent of your eval­u­a­tion is tied to the PARCC test, you don’t have a choice but to do what­ever you can to get your stu­dents to pass.

These two items taken to­gether have made the PARCC tests pub­lic school en­emy num­ber one.

Un­der­stand: Through pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion, tak­ing calls on NJ101.5, emails, Face­book posts, and count­less other in­ter­ac­tions, I’ve yet to talk to one stu­dent, par­ent, teacher or ad­min­is­tra­tor who thinks PARCC tests - es­pe­cially when tied to grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments and teacher eval­u­a­tions — are a good thing. They are uni­ver­sally loathed.

And when you get down to it, it’s damn near un-Amer­i­can.

Dig it: We pay taxes to fund the schools. We don’t like the PARCC tests. The teach­ers, who are paid through our taxes, don’t like the tests. The ad­min­is­tra­tors don’t like the test. The stu­dents sure as hell don’t like the test. And yet, from up on high, we aren’t given a choice in the mat­ter. Seems com­pletely back­ward.

Is there room for stan­dard­ized tests in our schools? Of course. They have their place, as a barom­e­ter of sorts to see how stu­dents are per­form­ing. A tool to be used. Like a ham­mer when you’re con­struct­ing a house. It shouldn’t be the whole house.

Far as I can see, there’s only one rem­edy, and that’s to stand up and pull your kids out of school on PARCC test­ing days. Take them to a mu­seum. Take them on a stroll of New York’s streets. Take them raft­ing. Take them any­where. They’re bound to learn more.

And so, if my idea takes hold - we all boy­cott PARCC - then what choice would be left to the pow­ers-that-be than to scale back its ridicu­lous de­mands on our kids and our teach­ers.

Re­mem­ber - we’re the ones pay­ing for this. We should have the fi­nal say.

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