As thousands of parents refuse to have their children take state tests in New Jersey this spring, one of their chief complaints is that the questions are too hard. What they may not know is that nobody has yet determined what qualifies as a good score…"In the past three years under the 11th-grade state exam that is being replaced by PARCC," Brody writes,"more than 90% of New Jersey 11th graders passed in language arts. About 80% passed in math." Yet,
The New Jersey Council of County Colleges said that 47% of freshmen who entered the state’s public colleges and universities in fall 2013 needed at least one remedial course. They burn through college tuition catching up on material they should have learned in high school.And,
In some educators’ view, raising standards nudges students to rise to the challenge. Jeffrey Nellhaus, chief of assessment at PARCC, said higher standards can be daunting at first, but they pay off. He was head of testing in Massachusetts when it started a new test in 1998. Initially, only 38% of 10th-graders scored as proficient in language arts. Last year, 90% did so.
Higher standards “can be a little scary to people at first,” Mr. Nellhaus said, “but staying the course, you see the improvement that the whole enterprise is trying to achieve.”