Feds to NY State: If You Delay PARCC Implementation, You Owe Us Big Bucks

If the U.S. Department of Education’s warning to New York State is an harbinger of the fed’s reaction to states that delay using student test scores for teacher evaluations, then Assembly Bill 3801, which flew through the NJ  Assembly this week, has a new wrinkle.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, “[a] federal education official warned Tuesday that if New York delays using student test scores as part of teacher evaluations this year, the state risks losing up to $292 million of a grant tied to making these reviews more rigorous.”

Today’s Spotlight analyzes Assemblywoman Mila Jasey’s (D-Essex) bill, 3801,  which would similarly delay for about two years the incorporation of student test scores into teacher evaluations. Full passage of Jasey’s bill requires a companion bill in the Senate and, then, Gov. Christie’s signature. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) has filed that companion bill, but it is currently slated for merely a discussion in the Senate Education Committee.

In Round 3 of Race to the Top, NJ won $38 million, partly to fund teacher and administrator evaluations. NJ also was granted a waiver from No Child Left Behind sanctions because of its commitment to data-driven evaluations.  If the feds are consistent in their disapprobation of states that back down from original timelines, NJ’s money and waiver are at risk.

Is the Jersey blowback to quick implementation so fierce that legislators are prepared to eat the sanctions and the money? It’s anyone’s guess. NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer told the Assembly, ““Before we go further, we must determine whether the huge investment of time and resources required to implement PARCC can be justified educationally. There is growing evidence that it cannot.”  The union leadership clearly won’t back down, but the U.S. DOE's reaction to NY State's plan to delay implementation provides easy cover for Christie and and Education Commissioner David Hespe.

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