Assembly Hopes Senate Will Go Along with PARCC Rollback

John Mooney | March 17, 2017 | Education
Lower chamber wants to eliminate PARCC as graduation requirement for NJ’s public high schools

State Assemblywoman Mila Jasey
As it has before, the state Assembly yesterday moved to limit the reach and impact of PARCC testing in New Jersey’s public schools.

And as it has before, the issue now goes to the state Senate to see whether it will stick. So far, that hasn’t much happened.

Assembly leaders are hoping this time will be different.

In a 67-3 vote, the Assembly yesterday approved a joint resolution that would stop the state from requiring students to pass the PARCC tests for Algebra I and for 10th grade language arts to graduate. The requirement is in effect for the Class of 2021.

If approved by the Senate, the measure would require the State Board to reverse its regulation putting the PARCC requirement in place. If it fails to do so, the Legislature would take a second vote to finalize the change. The resolution does not need the signature of the governor.

But while the Assembly has long been the center of PARCC dissent, the Senate has so far been cool to such actions. Earlier, the Assembly had sought to put a moratorium on the use of PARCC in place, but it also did not win Senate support.

So far, the Senate leadership under President Steve Sweeney has yet to even post the companion resolution in committee. Sweeney has said he is not opposed to PARCC and raised the question about what would replace it.

[related]Yesterday, Assembly sponsors said they hope this year will be different for a number of reasons, led by the fact the entire Legislature is up for election. Much of the support for the Assembly version was spurred by a massive call-in campaign to legislative offices.

“I think if there are enough constituents badgering their senators, the senators will turn,” said state Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex), the prime sponsor. “This is one of those issues that has widespread support, and constituents need to speak up.”

The first step is getting the resolution heard in Senate committee, said Marlene Caride (D-Bergen), chair of the Assembly’s education committee and also a sponsor. She said her next move would be to reach out to Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the influential chair of the Senate education committee who has been reluctant to move on anti-PARCC bills.

“I do think there is momentum with the bill, and I do think we have the support,” Caride said. “Hopefully, the chairwoman will hear the bill in her committee.”