SOM Schools to Individually Determine PARCC Make-Up Schedules

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After the PARCC exam was canceled across New Jersey because of technical problems experienced by Pearson, the company that administers the test, South Orange – Maplewood schools will individually determine when the tests will be rescheduled.

“Each school will determine how to schedule their makeups and communicate the revised schedule to their families,” said district spokeswoman Suzanne Turner on Wednesday evening.

Some students reported being told they would take the missed tests Monday; others said they would complete them Thursday.

This week’s testing was for students in 9th grade at Columbia High School; 7th grade at South Orange and Maplewood Middle School; 4th grades at Clinton, South Mountain, Seth Boyden and Tuscan Elementary Schools, and 5th grade at Jefferson Elementary School.

Turner said that Paul Roth, the district’s chief information officer, was able to log on to the PARCC system as a test Wednesday afternoon and did not encounter any problems. “We do not know if this means the issue is completely resolved, however,” Turner said.

A report in the Asbury Park Press on Wednesday night said the problems were fixed and testing should resume as scheduled on Thursday. The report quoted a PARCC spokesperson as saying the problem stemmed from an “employee error.”

Pearson is “truly sorry” for the error, according to a report in

In a recent email to SOMSD, NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe said that Pearson “has assured us that every resource at its disposal is being directed toward identifying the cause of the problem and fixing it. We continue to work with Pearson to determine whether the system will be working at full capacity tomorrow morning.”

The responses of SOMSD schools and teachers to the unexpected glitch varied across the district. For example, at Columbia High School staff “quickly pivoted to make the time useful to our 9th graders,” according to an email to parents from Principal Elizabeth Aaron. CHS teachers helped 9th graders log into Khan Academy websites where they were able to access tutorials in various subject areas and do SAT prep and practice.

Meanwhile, in at least one South Orange Middle School classroom, 7th graders sat and talked amongst themselves during the entire testing period.

Some parents have been expressing exasperation with the PARCC postponement on social media, with the conversation turning to the issue of refusing or opting out of the test. “I was on the fence for a while, but the conversations that have arisen due to the technical glitches have persuaded me to refuse,” wrote one on Village Green’s News & Views Facebook group.

“It made me feel better about opting out,” wrote another parent. “PARCC is a waste of time, money, and human resources, on many different levels.” Others were more sanguine: “…I don’t see how it relates to the larger issues people have with PARCC. It’s a computer glitch, they happen all the time.”

In response to a question about the opting out procedure, Turner said, “Parents can refuse [the test] at any time, even after their child has taken part of the test. Parents who wish to refuse should submit a note in writing to their building’s principal.”

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