NJ Lawmaker Says Common Core Biggest Concern in All Years as Legislator

AP/Mel Evans
AP/Mel Evans

The sponsor of a bill passed by the New Jersey state Assembly to curb the use of the tests aligned with the Common Core standards said he has never received more concern about any other issue in his 14 years as a lawmaker.

As Mycentraljersey.com reports, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D), the chairman of the state Assembly Education Committee, was among lawmakers in the chamber who voted on Monday to prevent the use of tests aligned with the Common Core standards to be used to evaluate teachers or students. The measure was approved by a vote of 63-7.

The bill would “impose a three-year moratorium on use of assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)” for the evaluation of teachers or students. Per the measure, the PARCC assessments would not be allowed to be used for placement of students in gifted and talented programs or intervention programs, for advancement to the next grade level, or for graduation proficiency assessment prior to the 2018-2019 school year.

“This is not a Democratic bill. This is not a Republican bill. This is not a conservative bill. This is not a liberal bill,” said Diegnan. “This is a bill that really basically puts a time-out on a process of PARCC which is out of control at this particular point.”

Nevertheless, Janellen Duffy, executive director of the New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now, expressed concern that a three-year delay in use of the PARCC tests to evaluate teachers actually extends the two-year delay already imposed by the way in which the Department of Education calculates the measure.

Five years is “a very long time to wait,” Duffy said. “Right now, the objective weight that’s in a teacher evaluation is 10 percent, which is a pretty small figure. We think that we should see how things play out with PARCC and let’s see what things happen.”

This year, the PARCC assessments have already begun in some New Jersey school districts, though most students will take them in March.

The bill heads to the state Senate where state Sen. Shirley Turner (D) is sponsoring the same bill that has not yet been scheduled. If approved, the measure would then head to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Recently, while on a trip to Iowa, Christie—a former Common Core supporter—said he has “grave concerns” about the Common Core standards, though the only action he has taken in his state has been to order a commission to study student testing. At the end of January, NJ.com reported that the commission announced New Jersey schools could be testing students too often and recommended that a research study be conducted to determine the extent of testing in the state.

The Des Moines Register reported that, while in Iowa, Christie said he especially has concerns about “the way the Obama administration has tried to implement [Common Core] through tying federal funding to these things, and that changes the entire nature of it from what was initially supposed to be a voluntary type of system that states could decide on their own.”


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