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Brick Students Who Won’t Take PARCC Test Will Read A Book During Exam

Computers in a classroom. (File Photo)

Computers in a classroom. (File Photo)

The number of students whose parents won’t be allowing them to take the standardized PARCC test this year may be low, but officials at the state level plotted two potential ways they could spend their time as their classmates take the exam: stare at a blank computer screen, or read a book.

Brick chose the latter.

“They gave us two options, [students] can sit and read, or sit, look and stare,” said Dr. Walter Uszenski, Brick schools superintendent.

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The option to stare at a blank computer screen for three hours is “appalling,” Uszenski said.

One parent, whose name Shorebeat is voluntarily withholding, said at a Board of Education meeting Thursday night that her child would not be taking the test and felt the few options available as an alternative were punitive in nature. The mother said she was surprised the district told her that school officials had to approve whatever book her child would read during the test in advance.

But that, too, is a state mandate, explained Susan McNamara, the district’s testing coordinator.

McNamara said the state policy dictates that students cannot read a book that is referenced in the PARCC test itself. As long as the mother’s choice of reading material – in this case, “To Kill a Mockingbird” – did not appear on the test, it would be approved by the district.

The PARCC (short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exam is a standardized test published by Pearson Educational Testing which will be used by 19 partner states. State officials have said the PARCC exam is not significantly different than the state’s own exams – the NJASK and HSPA tests – which were given in previous years and were gradually rewritten to conform to national common core standards. But since PARCC is completely aligned with common core, some parents have expressed political and philosophical disagreements with test and have barred their children from taking it.