Sunday Leftovers

PARCC-ing Lot: Steve Wollmer, NJEA spokesman, says that according to NJEA's numbers, 5% of N.J.'s kids opted out of taking PARCC tests. The Record notes that "although test participation was strong in most schools, large numbers of students were opting out at high schools in mostly affluent districts. Superintendents said many skipped the test because they knew it would not count toward graduation or their grade point averages. Others chose to focus on homework or study for the SAT." (See my commentary on this topic herehere, and here.)

 The NJ Assembly (unsurprisingly) passed the PARCC opt-out bill. See Star Ledger and  NJ Spotlight,

The Asbury Park Press calls Assemblyman Diegnan's bill the "Coddling the Opt-Out Kids" bill:
"The state Assembly unanimously passed a bill Thursday requiring schools to accommodate students refusing to take the state's new standardized tests.However ill-advised their decision, parents should have the right to opt out of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing. By the same token, the Legislature should not be passing laws that insist on having districts bend over backward for the opt-outs. That seems to be what this bill aims for."

"The presidents of New Jersey's 19 community colleges said they anticipate their schools will consider Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam scores as one factor in student placement beginning in 2016. 'These scores will be a valuable tool for colleges in our work to help high school students avoid remediation and begin study in college-level courses,' the presidents wrote in a joint statement." (Press of Atlantic CityStar Ledger)

Tom Moran: "[U]nion president, Wendell Steinhauer, charged that Pearson made the tests too difficult on purpose. "That's by design," he said. Because failure fortifies the company's next sales pitch: "We just happen to have some remedial materials we can sell you," he said, characterizing Pearson. "I don't lead off with that," he says. "But it's certainly one of the things in our polling." Polls show that half of Americans believe in ghosts, too. That doesn't make it so."

Some wealthy districts say they are dropping midterms and finals because of PARCC opposition but at least one -- Bernards Township -- did it years ago because of HSPA opposition, says the Star Ledger.

Back on Track: Camden replaced five of its worst schools with charter schools: Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard told NJ Spotlight, “I think the community is demanding change. They do want to see something different, so their kids feel safe, their kids are in a modern facility, and their kids are being challenged and getting the best education possible.I don’t think anybody in Camden disagrees on those issues,”

According to the Board President, "those five schools will be transformed and offer a new choice for families under the leadership of renaissance school partners, non-profit organizations chosen by the district because of their proven track records leading schools that prepare all students for success in college and life."

For more on Camden's improvement plans, see Camden Public Schools'  Transformation Family Information page here. Also see NJ Spotlight and The Philadelphia Inquirer,

NJ Spotlight wonders if the Christie Administration has stopped approving new charters and is, instead, approving charter expansions.

Also from NJ Spotlight: "One year after a controversial reorganization of Newark’s public schools, Superintendent Cami Anderson’s budget for the next school year calls for no further school closings or consolidations, at least for now." Here's the budget presentation.

In Paterson, reports The Paterson Press, "the revised 2015-16 school budget has eliminated the district’s unpopular proposal for a 13-percent tax increase, but as a result of the changes, the number of jobs being cut has soared to 363, the district superintendent announced Wednesday night."

The Trenton School Board is increasing taxes.

The Press of Atlantic City cites education advocates who hold that the State's flat school aid is "creating growing disparities and distortions, especially in categorical funding for programs such as interdistrict choice and special education."

Trenton Public Schools is using a new science curriculum, and district officials attribute the increase in A.P. science students to that "online guided curriculum that reorders physics, chemistry and biology courses to align with math classes."

The Swedesboro-Woolwich school district's  :entire computer network was being "held hostage" for bitcoins and being forced to postpone the PARCC exams is still compromised Tuesday afternoon."

Department of Meaningless Analogies: The president of the Millburn Education Association explained her opposition to linking teacher evaluations to student outcomes: "The scores from this year's testing will account for 10 percent of many teachers' final evaluation score," she told the board on March 23. "Now, some might say some might say 'but Lois, it is just 10 percent, the rest of your final evaluations are fine,' this will not materially effect your score."

But comparing it to a 10 percent salary reduction, or 10 percent of a surgery not completed, she said that "it is important and it does make a difference."