The state’s acting education commissioner, Lamont Repollet, unofficially launched his 21-county roadshow on Friday to a warm if not enthusiastic audience of his former peers, as he previewed his plans to revisit how — and how much — New Jersey tests its students.
Repollet, a former Carteret High School principal as well as Asbury Park superintendent, spoke before the annual meeting of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association in Monroe, and outlined his broad vision for public education policy.
Topic No. 1 was the Murphy administration’s plans for “transitioning” out of the statewide PARCC exams given in grades three through 11. That testing is underway now in virtually every district, where it continues roil passions among adherents and opponents.
Repollet spoke especially to those in the latter camp, asking for both their input and their patience.
“I know as we are in the middle of [test] administration now. I know that people have pains,” he said to open the topic.
“So let me say this, Gov. Murphy has called for a transition away from PARCC,” he said to scattered applause. “Collaboration is important, and as we transition, it is important we hear the voices here.”
Repollet said PARCC has becoming so polarizing that students don’t know who to believe about whether the test is good or bad. “As that student sits at their desk, can we really expect them to be at their best?” he said.
The commissioner said he will visit and host forums on the topic in every county in the state, and joked it should prove a pretty busy next two months. “My wife barely sees me now,” he said.
Repollet said there will be conversations with all the stakeholder groups as well, including students, and the state Department of Education last week put out several online resources for the public to weigh in as well.
“The conversation will be driven on why do we assess,” he said. “Why do we assess, and what do we do when we have the data?”
Those interested in attending the forums are asked to fill out an online form by May 8. Dates and locations of those meetings will then be announced May 11.
An online recorded webinar and feedback questionnaire are also available on the department’s website. residents may provide additional comments and questions via email to this address firstname.lastname@example.org .
PARCC in the short term
Still, he stressed that as that process proceeds, the state will remain with the PARCC testing for the immediate future, which he has already said will take it at least through the next school year.
“We’re going to do it deliberately, and we’re going to do it right so it does not have an adverse effect on our students,” Repollet said.
“In the meantime, the current statewide assessment … and the current accountability and graduation requirements will remain in effect until further notice and changes in regulation occur,” he said.
“I know that is hard for some of us, I know you have received phone calls already that PARCC is going away,” he concluded. “It is true, but this is still the law and we’re still following that.”