Legislation, A-4165 (Diegnan), which would allow a parent or guardian of a student to refuse allowing their child to participate in the PARCC test administration passed the Assembly March 26 by a vote of 72-0-0.
Under the bill, parents would be required to provide written notification to a school district or charter school that the student will not participate. A school district or charter school would be required to provide educationally appropriate ungraded alternative activities for the student or allow the student to engage in supervised reading or other self-directed work. In the event that student’s regularly scheduled class is in session during the administration of a PARCC assessment, then the student would be allowed to attend that class.
The bill also requires that no later than September 30 of each school year, a district or charter school provide information to parents and guardians regarding the PARCC assessments that will be administered during the school year. The parent or guardian would be required to provide written notification no later than 14 days before the administration of a PARCC assessment that the assessment is not to be administered to the student.
The bill does not exempt a student from any high school graduation requirement established under current law, however.
NJPSA has expressed concern with the legislation as it could jeopardize State and local district access to federal funds. Currently, federal law (NCLB/ESEA) requires states to administer state standardized assessments in language arts and mathematics to students in grades 3 through 8 on an annual basis, and once in grades
9 through 12. With limited exceptions, all students must take the test with each school meeting a participation rate standard of 95 percent.
Since 2011-12, New Jersey has operated its educational system under an ESEA Waiver which permitted our state to modify its annual performance measures for student achievement, but not to eliminate our testing or participation rate requirements. A core goal in seeking this waiver was to eliminate automatic sanctions on schools for not meeting unrealistic NCLB performance targets for schools and specific populations within schools. The USDOE now monitors our state based upon federal law and the
provisions of our ESEA Waiver conditioning our federal funding and program approvals on our compliance.
As a result, NJPSA is concerned about the potential impact of the Legislature mandating the creation of a statewide opt out policy on PARCC. With over $330 million in Title I funds at stake, we believe that this issue needs to be resolved prior to further action on A-4165. Attached is a letter to Commissioner Hespe describing the regulatory framework and potential actions that USDOE could take if New Jersey fails to meet its assessment participation rates as required by current federal law