NJEA rep slams Hespe testimony on PARCC exams, calls it ‘frustrating’


TRENTON — Leaders of New Jersey’s largest teachers union weren’t convinced by Department of Education Commissioner David Hespe’s testimony on PARCC exams in front of the Senate Education Committee this morning.

In fact, they’ve still got “real concerns” about the test’s roll out.

“Some concerns — I think that’s an understatement,” said Sean Spiller, secretary/treasurer of the New Jersey Educatioon Association. “We’re very frustrated, because our members are frustrated, what we’re hearing and what they’re seeing everyday. It’s unbelievable, because I think there’s such a disconnect between the message that’s being put forward and what’s really happening out there.”

Just a few weeks into its roll out at public schools across the state, the new standardized PARCC exams are already causing some serious controversy among parents, teachers and lawmakers. They’ve faced strong opposition from many groups who argue the format is too confusing (it’s a digital exam, taken on computers) or that it forces teachers to put too much time into test preparation.

In protest, some parents and students have opted out of the exam, causing DOE officials to worry whether a lack of participation will impact its ultimate effectiveness.

And while Hespe sought to stomp out some of that opposition today, arguing that participation, despite some opposition, so far has been “very strong,” NJEA reps point to a host of ongoing issues with the exams reported by students and teachers, from shortened class hours to technological issues to unreasonable time spent on test preparation.

At a hearing of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Schools Tuesday, NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer and other education officials condemned the test, saying it’s been “shoved down people’s throats.”

“Is that what working great means?” Spiller asked. “So I hear things like this and I get really disappointed, because there’s a real chance for open and honest discussion about this, but when you’re so distorting what’s happening on the ground, it’s frustrating.” NJEA rep slams Hespe testimony on PARCC exams, calls it ‘frustrating’