New Jersey Assembly Democrats:Assembly Democratic Bill Calling on State Board of Ed to Amend/Withdraw PARCC as Graduation Requirement because it is Inconsistent with Legislative Intent Clears Assembly

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Assembly Democratic Bill Calling on State Board of Ed to Amend/Withdraw PARCC as Graduation Requirement because it is Inconsistent with Legislative Intent Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Marlene Caride, Dan Benson, Annette Quijano, Ralph Caputo, Angelica Jimenez, Patricia Jones and John McKeon calling on the state Board of Education to amend or withdraw its high school graduation proficiency regulations because they are inconsistent with legislative intent was approved Thursday by the Assembly.

The regulations were revised last year to make the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test a graduation requirement for high school students.

The resolution (ACR-215) asserts the revised regulations are not consistent with the intent of the Legislature, and calls on the state Board of Education to revise or withdraw the regulations.

"It is clear that the PARCC is in conflict with the intent of the Legislature and should not be used or relied on to make graduation determinations" said Jasey (D- Essex/Morris). "The PARCC test was not designed as a graduation test and further undermines PARCC'S supporters who contend that the value of the test is found in the feedback it provides to improve a student's learning. It should not be used as a punitive instrument against students and teachers."

"The PARCC has created confusion and discord since it was announced. We cannot evaluate student proficiency and base a student's ability to graduate on a flawed system," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It is time for the state Board of Education to revisit the graduation requirements and put forth an assessment that does not put the future of our students in peril."

"Forging ahead with a one-size fit all test that was almost universally opposed from the get-go was not a good move," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "It is time for the state board of education to go back to the drawing board before students approaching graduation are unfairly affected by the PARCC."

"Graduation is the culmination of years of studying. To base this important milestone on a test as problematic as the PARCC is unfair," said Quijano (D-Union). "We should not experiment with the future of our students."

"We have to do what's in the best interest of our students. The PARCC, in its current form, doesn't do that," said Caputo (D-Essex). "Students should have to prove that they are ready for graduation, but not through an assessment as inadequate and problematic as the PARCC."

"The PARCC is flawed and should not be used as a graduation requirement," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). "It is time for the state to finally listen to the concerns of educators and parents, and suspend the PARCC before it becomes a real hindrance to graduation for our students."

"The PARCC is at odds with the intent of the Legislature and should not be relied on as a valid measurement for graduation," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "It's anyone's guess why the state decided to push ahead with the PARCC despite all the criticism, but it is time to reverse course."

Under the state Constitution, the Legislature may review any rule or regulation of an administrative agency to determine if they are consistent with the intent of the Legislature as expressed in the language of the statute that the rule or regulation is intended to implement.

Last August, the State Board of Education adopted regulations to revise the rules governing the assessment required for students to demonstrate graduation proficiency. The regulations are designed to provide for the transition from the High School Proficiency Assessment to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests.

Under the new regulations, the requirements for a state-endorsed diploma include that all students demonstrate proficiency in the PARCC 10th Grade English Language Arts (ELA 10) and Algebra I end-of-course tests, or through alternative means set forth by law.

However, the resolution points out that the new assessment is not an 11th grade exam as required by statute. The PARCC ELA 10 is administered in 10th grade and explicitly tied to a 10th grade course, and the PARCC Algebra I test is also not an 11th grade exam, as it is administered at the end of the year that a student takes the Algebra I course, which could be any grade.

The resolution also points out that various sections of state law regarding high school graduation standards refer to a single, comprehensive graduation assessment, but the PARCC tests are two separate tests given at the end of the relevant course, with administration of one PARCC exam having no connection to the administration of the other. These tests do not have to be given in the same grade, let alone in the same sitting as one comprehensive assessment.

The resolution also contends that while Section 6 of P.L.1979, c.241 (C.18A:7C-6) requires that students who previously failed to demonstrate mastery of graduation proficiency standards on the state graduation proficiency test be given opportunities to retake that same test in the 11th and 12th grades, the new regulations provide that students who have not demonstrated proficiency on the PARCC tests must be provided "the opportunity to demonstrate such competence through one of the alternative means." For the classes of 2016 through 2020, the alternative means include substitute competency tests, which are third-party assessments such as the SAT, PSAT, and ACT, other PARCC assessments, or the portfolio appeal, with no provision for retesting using the exams which have been designated through these regulations as the graduation assessment requirement.

For the classes of 2021 and thereafter, the new regulations refer to retesting opportunities for the PARCC tests, but it is unclear how this could be implemented, since these assessments are end-of-course tests designed to be taken as students are taught the course's content, and, additionally, in order to comply with the statute, these opportunities would need to be given in the 11th and 12th grades, which for a senior taking Algebra I, for example, would not be possible.

The State Board of Education will have 30 days from the date of transmittal of this resolution to amend or withdraw the regulations, or the Legislature may, by passage of another concurrent resolution, exercise its authority under the Constitution to invalidate the regulations.

The resolution was approved 67-3-2 by the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
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