Small percentage of NJ students skip PARCC tests

 New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe testified Wednesday before the Assembly Budget Committee that most students in the Garden State took the PARCC standardized exams. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe testified Wednesday before the Assembly Budget Committee that most students in the Garden State took the PARCC standardized exams. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Some parents didn’t want their kids to take it, but New Jersey’s top education official says most students took part in the new standardized PARCC tests.

About 3 percent of elementary school students did not take the PARCC exam; 7 percent of ninth- and 10th-graders opted out; and 14 percent of 11th-graders refused to take it, Education Commissioner David Hespe testified Wednesday before the Assembly Budget Committee.

“The high school test was totally disconnected from graduation this year. So we knew that was going to be a problem area,” Hespe said. “Also, I think 11th grade was the most difficult grade to schedule the PARCC administration around. That’s something I know we have to get on top of.”

Some parents had objected to testing, which was spread out over several days, because it took time away from instruction.

And Assemblyman John McKeon questioned the wisdom of allowing individual districts to set policy for students who opt out.

“We had testimony from a grandma whose granddaughter was denied a snack because they didn’t take one of the tests,” said McKeon, D-Essex. “There’s a ‘sit-and-stare’ policy in some districts where students are supposed to sit by idly.”

Hespe said school district superintendents don’t want the state to micromanage.

“We are going to come out with some of our thoughts in terms of what’s the best practice,” he told the committee. “Should there be a sit and stare? What do you do?”

Final numbers on the first year of the new tests are expected after the next round of exams in May.

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