HOPEWELL VALLEY: Board denounces graduation rules (updated)

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By Frank Mustac, Special Writer
(Editor’s note: This article was edited on Monday, March 14, for clarity and to add detail.)
Starting with the class of 2016, the state Department of Education is proposing new high school graduation requirements that rely heavily on the PARCC test.
The local school board wants those plans stopped in their tracks.
The Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education passed a resolution at its most recent meeting formally urging, in part, “that the legislature review/hold hearings on the impact of the Department (of Education’s) proposed graduation rules.”
PARCC is an abbreviation for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It is a consortium of states that collaboratively developed a common set of assessments to measure student achievement in math and English up to 12th grade, and preparedness for college and careers.
New Jersey is one of only two states in the partnership currently using the PARCC test as a requirement for graduation.
More than 50,000 seniors statewide did not pass the PARCC test when it was administered for the first time ever in Sept. 2015, according to language in the resolution document approved by the Hopewell Valley school board on Feb. 22.Those students would now likely have to rely on other standardized tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT) to fulfill requirements for graduation.
About 20 students at Hopewell Valley Central High School may be affected if the state approves the proposed changes, according Hopewell Valley school officials.
Lisa Wolff, the school board president, spoke about the board’s concerns.
“Throughout the state, this is a huge issue,” Ms. Wolff said on Feb. 22. “We are requesting that the Department of Education take another look at this.”
Other language in the resolution approved by the board is critical of a proposed new rule that, if approved by the state, could take effect by the end of the decade.
Ms. Wolff explained by email, that the proposal for 2020 is that alternative tests, like the SAT and ACT, would no longer be accepted as a PARCC substitute, but that there still would be a process in place to appeal to the state Department of Education, but it may be labor intensive, time-consuming and/or cumbersome, she said.
“So if you don’t take the PARCC, you do not graduate high school,” Ms. Wolff said at the meeting. “It might be a heavy-handed way to force all the kids to take the PARCC.” 

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