N.J. Ed. Comm. Hespe: Districts with High Opt-Outs will Be Placed on Corrective Action Plans and Risk State and Federal Funding

Echoing U.S. Sec’y of Education Arne Duncan’s announcement this week at the Education Writers Association conference, N.J. Ed. Commissioner David Hespe said yesterday, according to the Star Ledger, that  “New Jersey school that fails to have 95 percent of its students take the PARCC exams will be placed on a corrective action plan, and schools with especially high opt-out rates could have state funding withheld.”
Hespe said Wednesday that the first step is corrective action plans, which could require schools to hold more informational meetings about PARCC or to schedule face-to-face meetings with any parents who want to opt their children out of the tests.
Before levying any additional sanctions, the state would take into account whether this is the first year a district missed the 95 percent target, how much it missed it by and whether the school took actions either to prevent or promote opt outs, he said.
"Egregious situations" could result in the loss of federal or state funds, Hespe said
Almost all 3d-8th graders,  or 96%, took PARCC tests last month, but 14.5% of high school juniors were opted out by their parents. The percentages of  opt-outs were highest in  N.J.’s wealthiest suburbs. For example, 70% of Montclair’s high school students sat out the tests and half of Princeton’s did.

Duncan and Hespe’s announcements directly contradict the advice offered by both NJEA and Save Our Schools-NJ, the two organizations that most enthusiastically push parents to refuse PARCC testing.

Save Our Schools told parents -- incorrectly, it turns out --  that “missing the 95 percent participation rate at the school level has not been unusual in New Jersey. And no federal financial penalties related to Title I instructional funds have been imposed on any New Jersey school for missing that participation rate.”

And this is posted as part of  NJEA’s parent propaganda kit: “So will the US Department of Education take your school’s Title 1 funds if this legislation becomes law? The answer is NO, and here are some reasons why.” (That’s written, by the way, by Julie Sass Rubin, founder of SOS-NJ, which is based on Princeton.)

Another page of the media kit suggests that parents should “consider refusing to allow your child to take the PARRC or other standardized exams,” while another instructs parents that “corporate ed reform” supports “standardized testing” in order to expand “corporatized charter schools.” Another graphic  insists that standardized tests  directly lead to “putting CEO’s in charge of schools.”

You'd think that both  associations, which proclaim their devotion to education, would show a little respect for facts.

Time for a shout-out to N.J. School Boards Association, which all along has provided districts, board members, and families with accurate information. From NJSBA's FAQ sheet:
Must students participate in the PARCC assessment?
What is the impact on the school district if students do not participate in PARCC? 
The level of student participation in PARCC can affect federal funding for K-12 education in New Jersey, state aid to school districts, state monitoring (NJQSAC) results, the new teacher evaluation process, and the school district’s ability to design curriculum to meet student academic needs.

Labels: , , , , , ,