New Jersey Students Are Rising to the Challenge of PARCC Assessments


Eileen Cartwright, a resident of Marlboro, New Jersey, recently wrote to the Asbury Park Press encouraging New Jersey legislators to dump its PARCC assessments.  Cartwright argues that these high-quality assessments don’t “reflect what the current [New Jersey] curriculum contains” and that passing the PARCC test is not an adequate means to measure a student’s overall proficiency in math.

Cartwright incorrectly asserts that New Jersey should “adopt a test that appropriately reflects what the curriculum contains.” New Jersey adopted the PARCC assessment because it did – and does – align with the state’s academic standards and does test what students are learning.

Cartwright also fails to recognize the success that students in her home state are achieving under these high standards.  Today, New Jersey is considered one of the top performers in the nation when it comes performance on the PARCC assessments.  Up against other states using the PARCC, New Jersey posted pass rates 10 to 20 points higher than others. And in math, New Jersey outperformed other states in grades three to seven, according to reports from 2016.

The PARCC assessments used in New Jersey and other states are critical to measuring students’ aptitude and college preparedness. They provide parents and teachers with one of the best tools to measure students’ development in a subject and can provide valuable insight into how students are progressing towards college- and career-readiness.

Recent evidence indicates that PARCC is one of the most effective measures of student progress. Research by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) finds that PARCC reflects the range of reading and math skills students need; align closely with classroom instruction; and are both rigorous and age-appropriate.

In addition, further analysis shows that New Jersey has made “significant progress,” in closing the “Honesty Gap” because they are implementing challenging student assessments like PARCC. The Honesty Gap measures discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

As for Ms. Cartwright’s plea to legislators to “dump” the PARCC, there’s reason for great concern.  As Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen has discussed in the past, states that “go it alone” by creating independent assessments jeopardize their ability to compare progress to other states and may end up with weaker assessments in the process.

“Leaders should resist temptations to go it alone, otherwise they risk undoing the years of work to get to this point,” Cowen said. “High-quality student assessments are one of the strongest tools teachers and parents have to ensure students receive the support they need. That shouldn’t be surrendered to the political winds of the moment.”