The first two days of PARCC testing in the South Orange – Maplewood School District were uneventful, with little in the way of technical glitches and a relatively small percentage — roughly 2% — of students opting out of the test.
“Overall, the first two days of PARCC have gone extremely well,” said Acting Superintendent James Memoli in an email. “Approximately 1,500 students were taking the PARCC at the same time, and we experienced very few technical issues with our chromebooks or network.”
Testing began Monday for students in grades 5, 8 and 11.
Memoli said a few instances of “confusion” with the use of the test administration software were addressed that same day and testing continued as scheduled.
There were 140 students whose parents refused the test, or 2% of the student body, Memoli said.
“Many thanks to teachers and administrators, especially the Assistant Principals, for their hard work and patience in adapting to the new testing protocol, and in supporting our students in this new experience,” said Memoli. “Particular thanks to Paul Roth, Chief Information Officer, for overseeing all technical aspects of the transition to PARCC. His fastidious preparations set the district up for success in PARCC implementation.”
The experience in SOMSD stands in contrast to that of nearby Livingston Public Schools, which saw 1,100 student refusals out of 4,100 students eligible to take the test, according to a district spokeswoman, who said the number was “more than we anticipated.”
Livingston Interim Superintendent of Schools Jim O’Neill said in interviews with various media on Monday that he believed parents decided to refuse the test for a variety of reasons. “Partially the fear of the unknown — a different test, standards and first time on the computer. There were also the sample questions that parents found confusing. And also, because PARCC would not count for high school students for three years as a graduation requirement, we had many LHS [Livingston High School] students opt out because there isn’t an incentive to take the test,” he said in published reports.
The Livingston Board of Education recently 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 BOE recently considered a resolution addressing parent refusals of PARCC testing but decided to table it, citing concerns that it could send a message that the district is against standardized testing and might encourage more parents to refuse the test.
The district does have procedures in place for testing refusals.
As of last week, the New York Times reported that there were roughly a dozen opt-outs in the Millburn School District, and just under 100 in Bloomfield.