Thousands of students in New Jersey opt out of controversial PAARC tests

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Anthony Johnson has the details from Livingston. (WABC)

Students in New Jersey are taking new controversial tests for the first time, and some parents and educators are not happy with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

The test is for students in 3rd through 11th grades, but some students can opt out.

In one district in Middlesex County, approximately 30 percent of the students did just that, and about 1,000 opted out in Livingston. At Allendale High School, about 250 students declined over what parents say is a ground swell of concern about the overall objective of the exams. And according to reports, 1,000 students have opted out of testing down in Livingston.

Many say the students are too overwhelmed with testing, adding that the idea of a well-rounded education is being pushed aside because the testing is being used to both rate students and evaluate teachers.

Some districts are allowing kids to refuse the test as long as they bring in a letter from their parents, while other districts dropped midterms in order to place the test into the curriculum. But many of the students taking the test say they weren't overwhelmed by the material.

Critics say the test serves no real educational purpose.

"This test has never been fully run yet, and yet, you're going to put somebody's livelihood possibly at risk for this?" parent Julie Borst said. "And then I go back to special ed, and I say are you really going to rate my daughter's teachers, who spend an incredible amount of time, are really good at what they do, are making real tangible progress throughout the year, and you would dare base that on how my daughter would do on a standardized test like PARCC? That is insane."

State lawmakers are considering a number of PARCC-related measures, including one that freezes the use of high-stakes standardized test scores for three years, to enable this experimental test to be proven effective.

The PARCC test replaces the NJASK test, which was for 3rd through 8th grade, and the HSPA test, which was for high schoolers.

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educationeducationschool testingtestscommon coreNew Jersey
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