N.J. decides not to up the ante on PARCC for teacher ratings

The decision means metrics from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams will factor in only 10 percent of the review. Initially, the state was going to factor the PARCC results into 20 percent of the review. 

The decision to keep PARCC's weight at 10 percent was based on feedback from teachers and the fact that New Jersey does not yet have results from the first year of PARCC testing, Assistant Education Commissioner Peter Shulman told the state Board of Education. Without that data, the state doesn't know how PARCC will affect teacher ratings, he said.

PARCC's tie to teacher evaluations played a role in the controversy that surrounded the debut of the new math and English tests this spring. Some parents and teachers cited it as one of numerous concerns they had about the exams for students in grades 3-11.

The New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, agrees that PARCC should not be a 20 percent weight in teacher ratings, spokesman Steve Baker said. However, it favors eliminating PARCC data from evaluations entirely, he said. 

"We still have real reservations, really serious concerns about any use of standardized tests in (teacher) evaluations," Baker said. 

While Shulman said the state's decision not to increase the significance of PARCC data was based on staying the course and listening to feedback from teachers, Baker suggested it may be a tacit admission that the state shouldn't be using PARCC to evaluate it's teachers. 

A bill passed by the state Assembly would have delayed using PARCC in teacher evaluations for three years, but the proposal was never considered by the full Senate. State law requires the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, Department of Education spokesman Mike Yaple said.

Instead of supporting the bill, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz urged the state to keep the weight of PARCC data at 10 percent

Only teachers in grades 4-8 who teach math or English/language arts will have PARCC data factored into their scores. What will count for those teachers is a measure of how much academic progress their students made compared to other students across the state with similar academic backgrounds.

The rest of the evaluations for those teachers will come 70 percent from observation and 20 percent from student achievement on local tests or assignments. 

Teachers who do not have PARCC factored into their scores will be rated 80 percent on observation and 20 percent on student performance on local tests.

[Original article]