About Refusing the PARCC

Which New Jersey students take the PARCC?

  • The PARCC is administered to public school students in grades 3-11.

Can I refuse the 2016 PARCC for my child?

  • Yes. You, as a parent or legal guardian, have the power to refuse the PARCC for your child.

How do I refuse the PARCC for my child? What are the steps?

  • Refusing the PARCC for your child is easy.
  • Simply print this form, and mail or deliver it to your school office.
  • The letter should be addressed to the school and to the attention of the principal.
  • Be sure to give notice in writing.

I plan to refuse, and I prefer to mail the form to my school. Is there an easy way to find my school’s address?

  • Yes! You can find your school’s address here.
  • The letter should be addressed to the school and to the attention of the principal.

Is there a deadline to refuse PARCC?

  • You may refuse anytime before the test starts.
  • We encourage you to submit your letter as soon as possible. One month prior to the date of the test is ideal.
  • Be sure to give notice in writing. You may fill out this form and submit it to the school office to the attention of the principal.

I forgot to submit my refusal letter, and the test is tomorrow. Can I still refuse for my child?

  • Yes! Just be sure the principal gets the form before the test starts. For last-minute refusals, we recommend that you hand-deliver a note to the office and confirm that the principal receives it.

Will my child be punished or penalized for refusing to take the PARCC

  • If your child is currently in high school, there is no penalty for refusing the PARCC exam. New Jersey State law does not currently require PARCC as a graduation requirement.

What will my child do during PARCC test if we refuse?

  • The NJDOE has left it up to districts to determine appropriate alternatives for students refusing, and advises that these be conducive to learning. Some schools have rooms for non-testing students to read or do homework. They cannot force you to keep your child home if you refuse the test. We suggest that you find out what arrangements your principal is making and work with him or her to ensure age-appropriate alternatives are in place.
  • A note about “sit and stare:” The Commission of Education has highly recommended that a school district adopt policies that are conducive to learning. Technically, however, the Commissioner’s recommendation is not binding, so “sit and stare” could be implemented in a district.

Will refusing the PARCC affect my child's academic placement?

  • No. Schools use multiple measures to decide placement. Teacher recommendations and grades are the most important measures. This test should not be used as a sole determiner for any placement in advanced or basic skills courses.

My child has an IEP. Is s/he required to take the PARCC assessment, or can s/he refuse?

  • According to the NJDOE, unless your child is already scheduled to take an alternative standardized assessment, as deemed necessary by his/her IEP, your child must participate in PARCC. However, your child can refuse PARCC 2016. Students cannot be denied promotion to the next grade for refusing to take the 2016 PARCC. They cannot be placed in lower-level courses. They cannot be denied a diploma because they refuse the test. Refusing to take the PARCC will not affect your child's IEP or eligibility for special education or disability accommodations. In short, you can do what is right for your child.
  • A note about "sit and stare" policies. The New Jersey Department of Education has encouraged school districts to adopt policies that do not require students who refuse the PARCC to sit and stare at the computer. In fact, the Commissioner of Education issued a letter highly recommending that school districts adopt policies that are conducive to learning for students who refuse the PARCC.

Is it true that students who refuse to take the PARCC tests do not in any way hurt their teachers?

  • A student’s refusal has no impact on his/her teachers.

About the PARCC

What is the PARCC Assessment?

  • The PARCC is a state-imposed high-stakes standardized test given to students in grade 3 to 11. These are different from other standardized tests used in the past because:
  • they are high-stakes, which means the results of the test can be used to evaluate teachers and schools, punishing both when the scores are not high enough.
  • they are computer-based assessments, which requires the purchase of expensive testing equipment and hours of student practice to prepare for testing on this computer platform.
  • they are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which New Jersey Governor Christie said we abandoned last year because they were not serving our students well.
  • they are experimental in that they have only been used one year in New Jersey.

Is it true that it takes many students almost ten hours to take the PARCC?

  • Yes. It takes a student between 8.5 to 9.5 hours to complete the PARCC--regardless of grade level.
  • By contrast, the entrance exam to get into medical school takes just 5.5 hours!

How are the PARCC test results used?

  • PARCC test results are used to compare students, schools, and districts to similar students, schools, and districts. Schools with low scores can be punished and forced to focus more resources on test preparation in the next year.
  • PARCC results are also used, in theory, to measure how “effective” a teacher has been based on how well the students in his or her class perform on the assessment.

Is the PARCC harmful for schools, students, and learning?

  • Yes. The PARCC harms schools and students because it forces schools to focus more time and resources on tested subjects and test preparation. This change in focus warps what the students learn. Rather than being a place where students learn and master the curriculum, school becomes a place to prepare for the material tested by PARCC. This data-obsessed approach to learning and teaching reduces enriched curriculum and space for teacher and student creativity.
  • Learning is about meeting individuals where they are, tailoring instructional strategies to meet individualized needs, and maximizing student potential through building strong, human relationships. High stakes testing disrupts learning because it forces teachers to teach everyone the same way, with the same goal in mind: pass the test.
  • When we emphasize high stakes test, we de-emphasize learning and focus instead on compliance. This focus on compliance narrows the curriculum and pressures educators to teach to the test. It takes the love of learning from our schools and children. And it undermines the critical relationship between parent, student, and teacher.

Does the PARCC help my school tailor curriculum to my child's needs or to the needs of the district?

  • The opposite. Because PARCC is a standardized test, PARCC actually narrows curricula. That is, teachers don’t have the freedom to meet the individual needs of students. Rather, they must teach to the demands of the assessment that they did not create.
  • The PARCC has not been scientifically validated as reliable or beneficial.
  • The harms inflicted by the PARCC far outweigh any future hypothetical benefits of the experiment. The test disrupts education. It is a problem for teachers and students. And the results do not help schools and teachers better educate your children.

Is it true that high-stakes standardized tests such as PARCC are not helpful in identifying whether students are “college ready?”

  • Despite claims from various pro-testing individuals and groups, the only measure that has consistently shown predictive validity as to whether or not a child is “college or career ready” is that child’s academic grades. In addition, this test has been used for just one year and as such cannot be shown to have any predictive value in our children’s readiness for college and career.

Does the data collected from the PARCC test help bring resources to economically-disadvantaged school districts?

  • No. But computer-based PARCC tests costs districts millions of dollars in technology purchase and internet access – money that is taken from already limited budgets. The impact can be reduced class offerings, loss of school libraries and librarians and increased class size. In addition, economically disadvantaged districts are at an additional disadvantage because their students have less access to technology both in school and at home.

Is it true that a private corporation created, monitors and profits from the PARCC?

  • Yes. While the PARCC consortium itself creates the assessment, the actual nuts and bolts are created and distributed by Pearson. The test is a product sold by Pearson Education, a for-profit corporation that has a vested interest in the proliferation of high-stakes testing.
  • Pearson controls the training, the preparation, the testing, and the scoring of PARCC. Consequently, Pearson benefits greatly from the increase of high-stakes testing that has created such anxiety and fear in our schools, that children can no longer view school and their education in a positive light.
  • Pearson makes up almost 50% of educational materials and testing used in our country, which allows them unprecedented influence on education.  However, they’re no strangers to controversy around their tests, complaints have ranged from technical problems to invalid test questions.
  • Pearson has a 4-year contract with New Jersey. For Pearson’s coffers, the PARCC in New Jersey means approximately $108 million in profits. This price does not include the cost to make school districts "PARCC ready", which included upgrading equipment.
  • Despite the huge sum New Jersey is paying Pearson for PARCC, technical problems plagued the test’s first administration 2015.

About PARCC and High School Graduation

Must my child take the 2016 PARCC in order to meet graduation requirements and get a diploma?

  • No. For students in the graduating classes of 2016-2019, the PARCC is one of several options to satisfy the Department of Education's new requirements. Other options include some of the tests your child may already be planning to take for college admission, such as the ACT, SAT, and PSAT. Accuplacer and ASVAB-AFQT are additional options. Also, your child may graduate using a student portfolio prepared by the school district to document student mastery of the state proficiency standards in math and language arts.
  • For students graduating after 2019 there is no current law or regulation set that requires PARCC for graduation. We will update this information as the state makes any decisions.

Does my child have to take and fail the 2016 PARCC to be eligible to use the alternative paths to meet the DOE's graduation requirement?

  • No. Your child does not need to take and fail the 2016 PARCC to an alternative path to meet the graduation requirement. For example, a student may use his or her ACT score to satisfy the DOE's graduation requirement. A student who refuses the 2016 PARCC may still use other options.

About the PARCC and School Funding

Won’t my district lose money if too many parents refuse to let their kids take the PARCC?

  • No. Your district will not lose funding if too many students refuse to take the PARCC.
  • Last year the State of New Jersey passed a law that protects schools with high refusal rates. Under the new law, a school cannot be deprived of state funding for high rates of refusal.
  • Schools receiving Federal Title I funding will not lose that funding. Technically, they could be required reallocate money to encourage test taking if the refusal rates are high. But even in states with the highest refusal rates last year, not one of them lost Federal Funding.
  • This question stems from a common myth about PARCC refusal and federal Title I funding. Here are the facts
    • Federal law does not take away funding for a school district with a high rate of PARCC refusals.
    • State law protects districts with high refusal rates.
    • Even if every parent in a district were to refuse, the district will not lose a cent.
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