Wednesday, March 8, 2017

PARCC Season Brings Desperate Actions by NJ Administrators. Again.

This time last year, as the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) was cracking down on districts with high refusal rates, administrators across the state started doing some truly crazy and not well thought out things to students. I wrote two posts about it. You can read those posts here and here

Unfortunately, this year, we are already hearing stories from all over the state. Let me remind everyone this test still has not been validated. It's still hasn't even been run two years in a row. And, the supporting "evidence" of validity NJDOE claims, are not. You can read about that here

The story below was brought to my attention by parents who are deeply troubled by their children being used as pawns. Parental word should have been enough. What occurred goes to the very heart of trust. In this case, trust is now lost. Our children deserve so much better than this. 

In preparation for administering the PARCC test, many schools are testing their systems to see if it can handle the technology before the actual test. If you have not sent your letter in yet, the Save Our Schools NJ's refusal form (found here) has been used by parents for the past few years and it clearly states:
"I/we, ______refuse to allow our child(ren), ______, to participate in the following: PARCC Performance-Based Assessments, PARCC End-Of-Year Assessments, (and) Any test-prep activities, computer- or paper-based, associated with or designed to prepare for PARCC assessments". 
There is a growing group of angry parents in Washington Township (Gloucester County). Last year, this school district was first in South Jersey to write a resolution against the PARCC test. Several parents have tried to use the refusal form from the Save Our Schools NJ website and it was rejected by some of the administrators within the district. In its place, the administration has handed out a form the district tried to enforce last year against parents’ wishes. 

During the 2015-16 school year, the district asked parents to come in for meetings. If they could not come in, a phone conference was needed and the district supplied the form for parents to sign. Many parents refused to sign the form due to its content. The Board of Education explained their stance at a Spring work session, stating that parents do not need a meeting, do not need a phone conference, and do not need to sign a form. This year it seems all of that is forgotten. 

This year, parents have been told the form letter is a directive from Central Administration. Parents have been receiving returned refusal letters along with the school supplied form letter stamped "Do Not Duplicate". The district is also claiming there is a March 1st deadline to refuse. Parents who refused last year are not being asked to come in and talk, but parents who are new to refusing are being asked to come in. All in direct contradiction to last year’s statement from the Board of Education.

A parent reached out to one of our organizers because their child was asked to participate in the practice testing even though the refusal letter was sent in. The letter clearly stated that the child was not to participate in testing the test and was not to log in. 
The student had to explain to the teachers that their parents refused PARCC and the practice tests. The teachers explained to the student that it was not counting towards anything.  The young student again had to explain to the two teachers this was not what their family wanted. 

The school administrator put the student in detention, which is usually reserved for students who are being punished.

Two things are wrong with this; 1. If a parent says no, two adults should not be pressuring the child to go against their parents’ wishes. 2. Why on earth would a child be placed in a punishment room for refusing?

The explanation given to the parent was the school did not put the student in detention to punish - they had to think quickly of a place to put the child before the test.
The school had the refusal already, so being unprepared for the child is a questionable response. Also, refusing children last week were told they were going to be placed in internal/restriction during the testing. That was changed after parents found out. Families were told the students were going to watch a movie in the drama room, but instead the refusing students sorted colored pencils. Does that seem like a good use of class time? 

Believe it or not, this parent's child got off easy. Other parents who refused for their children are now furious that their children were not with this student in the restriction room. Why, you ask? This may shock you, but their children were forced to take the test against their parents’ wishes.

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