Monday, June 20, 2016

N.J. Principal: PARCC Tests Tell Us What We Need to Know

When New Jerseyans hear “Bergen County,” they think “rich and white.” That perception is mostly true, but not entirely. For example, 45% of the students who attend Washington School, a pre-K-5 elementary school in Lodi Township, are Hispanic, 10.5% are Black, and 55.2% are economically-disadvantaged. Their principal, Emil Carafa, has an op-ed in today's NJ Spotlight that explains that his students benefit from PARCC tests because “it’s refreshing to see an educational tool do exactly what it was designed to do -- without the exaggeration or qualifiers” and the PARCC assessment “is actually telling us whether students are ready for college or to enter the workforce.”

He writes,
Here at home, the PARCC assessment has been heavily criticized as a graduation requirement. As a parent, I can’t understand why we wouldn’t want students to take a test that tells us whether they’re ready for college. As a principal, I am at a loss to explain how we expect students to matriculate to higher education without knowing whether they’re prepared. New Jersey spent nearly $34 billion on education in 2015; in 2013, we spent almost $19,000 per student. Despite all that money, we still send students into the world unprepared for what they will encounter. But the PARCC assessments gives me, as both an educator and a parent, hope that we can all do better. 
The anti-PARCC movement is filled with misinformation, rumors and innuendo. This does a great disservice to parents and students. Here’s the truth: we want every student to succeed. We also want to determine as quickly as we can when students go off track so that we make course corrections at the earliest moment instead of waiting grades later to find out they’ve fallen behind. 
Mr. Carafa is an a board member of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

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