QOD: Bob Braun Rebuts NJEA and SOS-NJ’s Claim that PARCC Tests are High Stakes for Students

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Bob Braun, New Jersey’s Diane Ravitch-clone, is outraged. Okay, that’s his usual posture, but this time his target isn’t Cory Booker or Cami Anderson or Chris Christie, but  NJEA and Save Our School-NJ’s push poll that pretends to quantify parents’ views on PARCC testing.

Braun’s disdain for NJEA and SOS-NJ  stems from his belief that both lobbying organizations are copping out by not demanding that teachers, enslaved by “privatizers who want to turn public education into a testing plantation where instructors are mere test coaches,” either refuse to administer state standardized tests or advise parents to “opt out” their children.  (Irony alert: apparently, teachers are either slaves to “privatizers” or slaves to union leaders.) The error-ridden survey, he says, is simply confirmation of  NJEA’s “awareness of…the organization’s dwindling power in the Legislature.”

Here’s Braun:

There is something disingenuous about the union’s position.  The problem here—the union and SOS-NJ agree—is the “high stakes” nature of the testing. But, in reality, the high stakes, so far, are really only an issue for teachers. Thanks to the new law limiting the power of tenure to protect experienced teachers, student test results can be used to evaluate instructors. That’s very high stakes. 

So far, however,  poor performance on PARCC has no consequences for students. It is not a graduation test. Not a promotion test. The best [SOS President Susan] Cauldwell could come up with is that it causes stress to children and diverts time and resources away from more productive educational activities. 

Those are unfortunate consequences of statewide testing but they are not “high stakes.”  Parents often face considerable self-imposed stress in their efforts to buy the right house in the right town and insist their children take all the right courses, excel at the right sports, and engage in the right extracurriculars and volunteer work so they can get into the most selective colleges possible. Those stresses, in many school districts throughout New Jersey, long preceded the stress caused by statewide testing. 

The union is only setting itself up for the inevitable criticism—that it is using parents to shield their real concern: The use of statewide test scores to evaluate the performance of teachers.

For my take on the push poll, see today’s column at WHYY’s Newsworks.
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