Here’s a new twist on test prep: Get rid of midterms and finals (tests presumably made by teachers). Say that you are doing it to find more “instructional time.” Then use that “instructional time” to “instruct” students in how to take a new Common Core standardized test.
That is what is happening at a number of schools in New Jersey, including Glen Ridge High School, where, according to the Glen Ridge Voice, Principal Dirk Phillips sent home a letter to parents explaining the shift and told the Board of Education that the school feared that it would not have enough time to properly prepare students for the PARCC Common Core test.
PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, is one of two multistate consortia designing new Common Core-aligned standardized tests with some $360 million in federal funds. This is the first school year that the PARCC and the tests by the other multistate group, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, will be given. New Jersey students from grades three and up will take PARCC twice this school year.
According to the Voice, Phillips said that it took up to two weeks in total for teachers to review and then give students midterms and finals, and adding more review and test-taking time was a bad idea. At the school board meeting, some people expressed concern about the change:
“It’s a big change from what’s been done before, and I’ve just got questions about it,” Anthony Bonnett said.
“We don’t have a choice – that’s just the way it is,” board member Michael de Leeuw said.
“Some of it, New Jersey thinks up all by itself,” Superintendent John Mucciolo said of the new testing regulations, but others, he said, are federally mandated.
Earlier this year, Verona High School in Verona decided to do the same thing, according to myveronaj.com, which quoted Charlie Miller, the director of curriculum, as saying, “Every time you add a test, it takes away teaching time.” The new policy involves putting more weight on unit tests and including more sophisticated questions.