Home Mt Laurel News In our opinion: Delay judgement of the teachers

In our opinion: Delay judgement of the teachers

If you have a child in public school, chances are that you are well-informed as to what the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, is.

As a quick refresher, it’s a new online platform that students in grades four through eight will take instead of their former state standardized tests. PARCC aligns with the new Common Core State Standards, which has more rigorous benchmarks for student learning.

No longer will students take the traditional tests we grew up with — a Scantron form that we used a №2 pencil to complete. Instead, students will take math and language arts tests completely online.

PARCC testing begins in the fall at public schools throughout New Jersey, apparently whether local school districts are technologically ready for it or not. Some of the districts we cover in both Princeton and South Jersey have expressed concern about their readiness for administering the tests.

That’s a problem. But, as these same districts have said, they don’t have a choice. The PARCC testing is signed into state law, and there is no turning back at this point.

One of the more concerning aspects of PARCC, though, isn’t how it’s administered or the content of the tests themselves; it’s the fact that the results of the tests will be given major weight in the judgment of teachers and administrators.

The formula in place says student progress on state testing will make up 30 percent of an evaluation for teachers in grades four through eight. While we aren’t against using test results to judge teachers, at least in part, we don’t believe that now is the time to dive head-first into holding them accountable for testing for which their district might not be prepared.

The state Assembly passed a bill last week that would delay this judgment on teachers until the kinks are ironed out. The state Senate delayed a vote, opting instead to wait for direction from Gov. Christie, who’s expected to issue an executive order reducing the weight of the test results in teacher evaluations in the short term.

We back this thinking 100 percent. Having some objective measurers such as test results to evaluate teachers is valuable.

In the past, all anyone had to go on was subjective matters. But giving such heavy weight to test results when there are so many issues surrounding the administration of that test is unfair.

It’s the state’s job to ensure its school districts are up to speed on PARCC before it starts using it against our teachers.

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