Yesterday the N.J. Senate Education Committee considered six bills, most related to PARCC assessments. No big surprises: the Committee, chaired by Senator Teresa Ruiz, released bills to the full Senate that require local school districts to post information on timing of standardized tests (PARCC or otherwise), to publish rates of test refusals, and disallow the state from withholding state funds based on opt-out rates. But, in a big blow for anti-PARCC lobbyists, the Committee declined to consider another bill that would have placed a three-year moratorium on using PARCC results for teacher and principal evaluations.
The Committee, also unsurprisingly, voted to recommend to the full Senate a repeal on N.J.’s unpopular superintendent salary cap.
Assuming these bills are passed by the Senate — a likely scenario — they’ll still have to bypass Gov. Christie’s veto pen, a less likely scenario.
As chair of the Senate Education Committee, I have worked with leadership over a number of months to create a framework for addressing issues related to the PARCC assessments. The bills advanced today address concerns that have come up as part of our discussions with stakeholder groups, and we feel are the best approach to keep New Jersey, its students, families and faculty moving forward. They will address challenges with the rollout of the tests, but still allow for a process that will improve our student’s academic potential.
We will continue our work, but we cannot take action that will be counterproductive to our children’s success – nor can we risk losing federal funding to our schools. The fact is that we have had standardized testing in the state for decades. Four years ago, we changed our curriculum and accepted Common Core. It is important that we have a test in place that is aligned with our educational standards so we can improve student learning and better ensure that our children are prepared to compete in a global economy. This test is the measure the state has chosen to implement.
It is incumbent upon all of us to work together, in the interest of our students, to make sure we are moving forward in a responsible way. I am committed to continuing to do that along with the senate president and with stakeholders.”