Parents should resist the “devastating effect that high-stakes testing has” by opposing PARCC assessments, New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer argues in a letter published by the Morris County Daily Record. “PARCC is not a good test…We refuse to let PARCC stifle our educators’ creativity or our children’s futures,” Steinhauer claims.
Contrary to Steinhauer’s claim, evidence continues to build suggesting that high-quality assessments like PARCC are exactly the kind of tests parents and teachers should want their kids to take. As Karen Nussle wrote last year, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career…For parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”
A Harvard University study published by Education Next found rigorous education standards matched by high-quality assessments have “achieved phenomenal success” across the country. In 2015, 24 states earned an “A” rating for setting high proficiency benchmarks, compared to only six in 2005. Only Texas, which did not adopt Common Core Standards, earned a “D” grade, down from 13 states in 2011.
Likewise, a follow-up to last year’s Honesty Gap analysis finds most states have begun to close discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). At least 26 states made significant progress closing proficiency reporting gaps in eighth-grade math, fourth-grade reading or both.
“States and policymakers are taking this problem seriously and now states are getting more honest and more transparent with students and parents,” Karen Nussle said last month. “Now knowing the truth parents and teachers are doing the hard work of getting kids prepared for success in life.”
Another study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year concludes states are on the “right trajectory” by implementing high-quality assessments, like PARCC. The research, conducted by more than 20 State Teachers of the Year, found consortia tests better align with classroom instruction—deflating pressure to teach to the test—are appropriately challenging, and do a good job of capturing student understanding.
Pam Reilly, 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year and a participant in the NNSTOY research, stands in direct opposition to Steinhauer. “As a teacher, I sympathize with parents who have grown frustrated with the number of tests their children face. But I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” she wrote last month.