Students who don’t want to take the PARCC exams should be able to attend regular classes or work on other school activities during testing, according to New Jersey’s Assembly.
A bill (A4165) requiring schools to accommodate students refusing the state’s standardized tests passed the Assembly 72-0 this afternoon. Before becoming law, the proposal requires approval from the state Senate — which has yet to act on any PARCC legislation passed by the Assembly — and Gov. Chris Christie.
The bill directs schools to provide students refusing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams with an ungraded alternative activity or to allow those students to engage in supervised reading or other self directed work.
New Jersey is among a majority of states with no policy on whether students can refuse state tests or how schools should treat those who do. Instead, each district was left to make its own decision when the new tests for grades 3-11 debuted across the state in late February and early March
The state Department of Education has said that schools could face sanctions, including financial penalties, if 95 percent of students don’t take the tests, as required by federal law. But the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has doubted that financial penalties will be enforced.
Republican support of the bill shouldn’t be seen as encouragement to opt out but merely support of parents and students having that option, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said.
“A parent should allow the children to take the tests and then let’s analyze the results of those tests to determine whether they are skewed, whether they have benefit, whether they are achieving the goals that have been set forth,” Bramnick said.
The bill would also require districts to notify parents of scheduled PARCC exams by Sept. 30 of each year and provide information on how the results will be used.
Parents would have until 14 days before the test to provide written notification that a student will not participate.