PARCC exam role in NJ teacher evaluations may be limited for another year

 New Jersey Sen. Teresa Ruiz requests the 10 percent weighting of PARCC exams for teacher evaluations be extended for another year. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Sen. Teresa Ruiz requests the 10 percent weighting of PARCC exams for teacher evaluations be extended for another year. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

As the second round of the new standardized PARCC tests begins in New Jersey schools, use of the test results in teacher evaluations could be limited for another year.

 

The state Education Department had already lowered the percentage of teacher evaluations based on those test results to 10 percent this year from a planned 30 percent.

During a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Education Committee, chairwoman Teresa Ruiz asked the state’s education chief to extend that standard for another year.

“Just so that we can see another year of the test and its impact to the evaluation, so that the most important professional in a child’s outcome recognizes that we are being responsible and measured in our approach,” said Ruiz, D-Essex.

Education Commissioner David Hespe signaled his agreement on what he called a common-sense approach.

“We’re going to actually be discussing this with stakeholders, but I think our commitment remains that we should allow folks to get comfortable before we substantially raise the stakes,” he said.

Districts where student participation in the PARCC exams is under 95 percent could face penalties, including loss of state aid, but Hespe said he doesn’t want to see that happen.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I can’t remember the last time I said to a district, ‘You’re not doing what we want you to do, we’re going to take your state aid away.’ I don’t remember ever doing that, and certainly that hasn’t even crossed my mind in the last 14 months,” he said.

Hespe said his department will work with schools with high opt-out rates to improve the process.

Parents across the state have challenged use of the exams because they take away from instructional time.

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