Murphy still wants to phase out PARCC despite pushback
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his mind is unchanged about phasing out a controversial standardized test despite legislative concerns over dropping the exams.
Murphy spoke Tuesday in Carteret at an unrelated announcement on preschool expansion.
His comments come a day after Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet testified before a joint Assembly and Senate committee on the administration’s proposal to curtail the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams. They’re commonly known as PARCC tests.
“The white-knuckle, high-stakes test leaves me cold,” Murphy said. He added that he’s seen no evidence to convince him otherwise.
Fellow Democrats, including Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, said they were concerned about the phase-out and want more conversations about the proposal. It’s unclear how lawmakers could halt the proposals, which face a vote before the state Board of Education. One vote has already been delayed.
Murphy is seeking to drop from six to two the number of required PARCC tests required in high school. His administration has already slashed how much weight the exams carry for evaluating teachers from 30 percent to 5 percent. He also wants to cut how much time the testing takes by 25 percent.
PARCC is a consortium of states that developed the tests, which came online as part of a Common Core curriculum in 2015.
It has stirred controversy among parents and students in New Jersey over how much classroom time gets devoted to test-prep instead of to other parts of the curriculum.
Liz Mulholland, who said she has children in 12th, 11th and seventh grades, spoke at an anti-PARCC rally after this week’s hearing and took particular issue with the state’s choice to require tests for graduation.
“This state chose six tests in high school. This is an abomination, an absolute abomination,” she said.
The test’s opponents also have the influential New Jersey Education Association on their side. It’s the state’s biggest teacher’s union and allied closely with Murphy.
Other groups have called for pumping the brakes on phasing the test out. Among them are Better Education for Kids, which began as a group aimed at supporting Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s education policies, and the nonprofit group JerseyCAN.
JerseyCAN executive director Patricia Morgan has said PARCC helps determine what steps the state should follow to help students.
Repollet’s office said it’s unclear when an additional vote on the change could come. Spokesman Michael Yaple stressed that the vote would be to advance the changes through the rules process and not the final vote.