PARCC Opt-Outs Hit 40% at Columbia High School

by The Village Green
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Although the rate pales in comparison to Montclair and Livingston, the South Orange-Maplewood School District has posted a final PARCC opt-out rate that is significantly higher than initial numbers indicated.

After the first two days of PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) standardized test back in early March, only 2% of SOMSD students had opted out.

However, the final PARCC opt-out numbers are in, and 717 or 16% of eligible students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District ultimately opted out of PARCC. Most notably, the majority of opt-outs were CHS students, where 572 refused PARCC or 40% of CHS eligible students.

In Montclair, nearly 40% of students opted out. In Livingston, the opt-out rate was about 33%. (Opt-outs were also higher at the high school level in Montclair, where more than 59% of students opted out.) As of April 22, NJ State Education Commissioner David Hespe reported that, statewide, 3% of elementary students, 7% of 9th and 10th graders, and about 14% of 11th graders opted out. Hespe said that 11th graders opted out at a higher rate in part because the test is not a graduation requirement.

Some speculate that opt-out rates were high in some towns because of board of education resolutions against PARCC. The Livingston Board of Education passed a resolution urging the state to “reconsider the speed of implementation and the amount and cost of testing” and asking that “PARCC testing in its current form not be used to evaluate teachers or students.” The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Ed considered a resolution addressing parent refusals of PARCC testing but never passed it, citing concerns that it could send a message that the district is against standardized testing and that it might encourage more parents to refuse the test.

Gov. Christie has warned parents that opting out of PARCC could cause districts to face “ramifications out of my control.”

Acting Superintendent James Memoli supplied the South Orange-Maplewood numbers at the Monday, May 18, Board of Education meeting.

In a followup email to Monday night’s announcement, Memoli wrote, “The administration of the first year of the new PARCC went extremely well. We did have a higher number of students refuse to take the test than we have seen in the past for standardized testing, particularly at Columbia High School. The state has not stated definitive plans to impose penalties based on participation. We will keep the Board and the community informed as we hear more.”

Here is the breakdown by school:

CHS Enrolled Refused %
9 529 154 29%
10 439 199 45%
11 449 219 49%
1417 572 40%
MMS
6 284 4 1%
7 256 3 1%
8 251 2 1%
791 9 1%
SOMS
6 251 11 4%
7 266 19 7%
8 249 24 10%
766 54 7%
Clinton
3 84 6 7%
4 90 3 3%
5 95 7 7%
269 16 6%
Jeff
3 143 7 5%
4 162 10 6%
5 148 7 5%
453 24 5%
Seth Boyden
3 88 6 7%
4 76 6 8%
5 78 3 4%
242 15 6%
S Mtn
3 107 4 4%
4 99 5 5%
5 94 5 5%
300 14 5%
Tuscan
3 97 5 5%
4 98 2 2%
5 81 6 7%
276 13 5%
TOTAL: 4514 717 16%

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