Delran Education Association Statement on PARCC Results
Individual PARCC score reports from the 2014-2015 academic year were mailed home to Delran students and their families yesterday, so we feel that now is an appropriate time to reaffirm our position on high-stakes standardized testing and caution parents, students, and community members against assigning too much value to national, statewide, district, and individual PARCC scores.
Foremost, we believe that standardized tests are inherently flawed and biased–and that score reports which neglect to account for the very characteristics and conditions that make each student and school unique are misleading at best.
More specifically, the issues unique to Pearson’s PARCC tests are so troubling that 18 of the the original 24 PARCC states have either dropped out of the consortium or expressed their intentions to do so in upcoming years. Also, hundreds of thousands of families across the country–and perhaps more than 120,000 in New Jersey alone, according to Save Our Schools New Jersey–refused PARCC testing on behalf of their children last spring.
Most importantly, high-stakes standardized tests–and score reports that are visually appealing but lack any specific or actionable data about individual student performance–are instructionally useless. Data returned after students have moved on to new teachers and grade levels does not inform instruction, particularly when students’ responses to test questions are withheld.
We, the members of the Delran Education Association, are professional educators who have dedicated our careers to children–and we assess our students’ strengths and needs each and every day. Simply put, and for reasons too numerous to list here, PARCC results cannot and will not tell us anything we do not already know about our students.
We believe that the practice of rating and comparing schools, students, and educators based on standardized test scores, without acknowledging or addressing the variables that affect those scores, is irresponsible and reckless–and that the current trend of devoting an inordinate amount of time and energy to test-taking, often at the expense of programs and activities that facilitate a love of learning, threatens to do irreparable damage to children and to public education in general. We believe in and welcome authentic accountability measures that are derived through personal interactions and meaningful assessments of student learning, rather than those that oversimplify and ignore the intricacies of the teaching and learning process.
We believe that every child deserves a rounded, meaningful, and joyful educational experience, and that each and every child we serve has unique gifts–most of which cannot be measured by standardized tests. We vow to celebrate the diversity that makes our children and community unique, even though the ultimate goal of standardization is to ignore such diversity. And given that we as educators know our students and their individual strengths and needs, we will not allow testing corporations, bureaucrats, or policymakers with no experience in education–to whom our students are little more than numbers on a spreadsheet–to label our schools, children, programs, or educators as failures.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to educating all students who pass through our doors to the best of our ability, and we will continue our mission in spite of the damaging mandates imposed on us that are not in the best interests of our children.