Update: The local access channel was able to post the BOE meeting on its website today. I am not computer savvy enough to figure out how to take a clip of my 3 minutes, but I can tell you that I start at the 2 hour and 30 minute mark on this link:
If someone knows how to grab my snippet and put it on YouTube, I’ll link it that way instead.
Here is the text of my prepared remarks for tonight’s local Board of Education meeting. I think I deviated a litte bit — but not very much — from what’s written here. If I can figure out how to get a snippet of the video, I will add that to this post (embarrassing as that might be). Please note that my comments were limited to 3 minutes.
I am here today to ask the District to formally state — in writing to all parents — its policy regarding how children who are refusing the PARCC exams will be accommodated.
I attended the District’s October 23rd PARCC Family Presentation, where Gail Clarke was asked to comment regarding the district’s opt-out or refusal policy for the PARCC exams. She stated that no policy was in place because the State DOE had not yet issued its guidance regarding opt-out decisions.
A week later, on October 30th, the New Jersey Department of Education issued “guidance” to school districts stating that districts were under no obligation to provide educational alternatives, and suggested — but did not require — that districts update their attendance and discipline policies to address PARCC opt-out issues.
NJDOE’s guidance is at odds with Montclair’s prior policy.
So, given the conflict between Montclair’s NJASK opt-out policy and the State’s recent guidance, I am here to ask what Montclair’s policy will be for handling PARCC refusals. And, as a parent, I am here to urge you to adopt an accommodating and humane policy.
I’ve reviewed the 3rd and 4th practice exams and sample questions on the PARCC website. I found many questions confusing and developmentally inappropriate — frankly, the “gotcha” feel of these questions reminded me of the New Jersey Bar Exam.
I am also concerned that we are asking students as young as 8 to compose essay responses on computers when the district hasn’t provided comprehensive typing instruction.
But I am most concerned about the narrowing of the curriculum in response to testing pressures: in particular, I worry about how little social studies education my 4th grader has seen compared to what I’d studied — in a NJ public school — by her age. Where are the units studying mythology, genealogy, Native American culture, American history, and the ancient world? Our district’s lack of social studies education is a sad disappointment — and a direct result of our testing-focused culture: Social Studies gets short shrift because it is not on the test. Elementary school social studies should be more than “map skills.”
I try to avoid making decisions without access to all of the facts, which is why I’ve reviewed the PARCC sample materials in depth. So before I make a final decision regarding the PARCC exams, I would like to review the District’s PARCC opt-out policy.
This is an urgent matter, given that my daughter reports that her class has already lost at least 6 periods of instructional time to PARCC preparation, including last week when her class was asked to attempt an End of Year math practice test before the children had been presented with many of the topics tested.