Murphy: End ‘High Stakes, High Stress’ PARCC Tests

Proposes Real-Time Assessments & Eliminating Exit Tests for Graduation

Newark — Phil Murphy, Democratic candidate for governor, this morning said under his administration New Jersey would drop the controversial PARCC tests and eliminate standardized testing as a requirement for graduation.

The proposal comes as the State Board of Education is expected to pass a resolution making passage of the nationalized PARCC tests a requirement for graduation. Murphy said that if elected, he would direct the state Department of Education to work with educators to create standardized tests that would provide real-time feedback on educational progress to students, teachers, and families. He also would eliminate passage of a specific standardized test as a graduation requirement.

“The era of high stakes, high stress standardized tests in New Jersey must end, and I will see that it does,” said Murphy. “We must get back to the simple premise of letting teachers use classroom time to teach to their students’ needs, and not to a test.”

Murphy said that while standardized tests are valuable for creating benchmarks of student learning that can be compared across geographic and demographic groups, the state needs to overhaul the testing environment in its entirety. He also said standardized tests should help assess a student’s advancement at a certain point in time so teachers can make necessary adjustments in the classroom.

“Standardized tests have a role, but we need to remember their role,” said Murphy. “Good teachers and good students can have bad test days. Too much emphasis is being put on a single test, as opposed to weighing a student’s progress through years of instruction.”

In use in New Jersey over the past two years, PARCC tests have been criticized by teachers, parents, and school administrators alike for taking away too much classroom instruction time and for forcing curricula to align with test topics to ensure higher scores.

“Under PARCC, we have to wait for a battery of information that has no tangible educational value,” said Murphy. “Our tests should be designed to provide real-time corrective information.”

Under Murphy’s plan, New Jersey would:

  • End PARCC testing.PARCC tests are considered by many educational experts to be outdated, expensive, and not helpful to students. Only a handful of states still use PARRC testing.
  • Eliminate the exit test graduation requirement. New Jersey would follow the majority of other states that have eliminated standardized testing as a graduation requirement.
  • Create new and innovative tests to track student progress. To replace PARCC, New Jersey would follow the federal government’s lead under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act that gives states the ability develop innovative, easy to administer, and shorter tests that provide real-time feedback to both teachers and students. New tests would be developed with teacher input to maximize consistency with the established core curriculum.
  • End student and teacher stress. PARCC tests currently take weeks to administer and distract teachers from teaching to their curricula throughout the school year. Students would be allowed to take the shorter tests multiple times over the year to gauge advancement, which when coupled with the elimination of an exit test requirement, would minimize stress.
  • Save money. Adaptive, computer-based tests have been proven to cost a fraction of PARCC.