Table of Contents:
About the Common Core
Who created the Common Core?
What is No Child Left Behind (NCLB)?
What is the Race to the Top Fund?
What is the PARCC exam?
What is NJ SMART?
Does the PARCC exam affect my grades?
How many times do I take the PARCC?
What are NJ's graduation requirements?
Will I graduate if I don't take the PARCC?
Can the school force me to sit and stare if I refuse the PARCC?
What is a passing PARCC score?
Can I wear anti-CCSS apparel in school?
How many NJ students have refused the PARCC?
About the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) is an education initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs or to enter the work force. In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core, but according to a May 2013 Gallup Poll, 62% of Americans said they had never heard of the Common Core. Many call the goals and standards a mix of federal funding, preschool-workforce invasive student tracking, and one-size-fits-all computer-based learning style (HSLDA).


Who created the Common Core?

The Common Core was written by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO). The NGA is composed of governors, their head staff members, and policy makers. They released the CCSS on June 2, 2010.


What is No Child Left Behind (NCLB)?

NCLB Act of 2001 is a set of federal rules and regulations regarding education signed by President Bush in 2002. The legislation further expanded the federal government's role in education. The primary goal was to provide a fair opportunity for all students and teacher accountability. The federal government started to require annual testing in return for education funding.


What is the Race to the Top Fund?

Following the NCLB Act, the United States Department of Education began giving money to states for "satisfying certain education policies, complying with the Common Core standards, lifting caps on charter schools, turning the lowest-performing schools, and building data systems" (Race to the Top, Wikipedia). New Jersey was awarded roughly $44.3 million (NJEA).


What is the PARCC exam?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam is a Common Core based test created by Pearson PLC. For the most part, the test is online, but paper versions can be given (PARCC FAQ, 4). There is a twenty day period in which the test can be administered (FAQ About Scheduling, 2). The average student will test for a total time of eight hours to just under ten, depending on their grade and possible IEP (NJEA).


What is NJ SMART?

"The Department of Education's NJ Standards Measurement and Resource for Teaching (NJ SMART) is a comprehensive statewide longitudinal data system solution that serves multiple purposes: staff/student identification, data warehousing, data reporting, and analytics." (NJDOE, Background)


Does the PARCC exam affect my grades?

No. Similarly to the NJ ASK, the PARCC exam will not affect a student's in school grades. However, see NJ's graduation requirements for more information about graduation. In addition, some districts used to rely on the NJ ASK scores to help determine if a student was eligible to take Honors classes. This usually varies from district to district, and it is not known if they will use the PARCC exam to determine student placement.


How many times do I take the PARCC?

The PARCC exam is taken twice a year. The Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) is taken in March, and the End-of-Year Assessment is taken around April and May. The two test scores will be combined to "produce a student's summative assessment score" (PARCC Online, 2).


What are NJ's graduation requirements?

The classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018 have a variety of options they can take in order to graduate. These include, but not limited to, passing the PARCC exam, SAT, PSAT, ACT, ASVAB, or meeting the criteria of the NJDOE Portfolio Appeal. For those against high-stakes testing, the portfolio appeal option seems the most pleasing. However, the state hasn't said much regarding the criteria. This question will be updated with new updates as they come out.


Will I graduate if I don't take the PARCC?

The New Jersey Department of Education said, "at a student level, school counselors can certify that a student in the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018 met the state proficiency requirements in many ways. For instance, a student may demonstrate proficiency via an SAT or ACT score in addition to the NJDOE's long standing portfolio appeal process. However, if a student does pass a PARCC assessment in English Language Arts or mathematics, a school counselor will not be prohibited from using those scores as a demonstration of proficiency" (NJDOE Transitioning to PARCC Frequently Asked Questions). There are other options for a student to partake in to meet these requirements.


Can the school force me to sit and stare if I refuse the PARCC?

Sit-and-stare policies are technically not allowed, since non-testing students should not be in the testing environment (2015 PARCC Test Administrator Manual for Computer-Based Testing, Section 4.2). If a school attempts to force you or your child to sit and stare in the testing environment, politely decline their offer and request to be placed in an alternate location during testing (ex. library, study hall, office).


What is a passing PARCC score?

The State of New Jersey gives the option of passing the PARCC exam as a graduation requirement. The Department of Education has yet to announce what a passing score is, or even how the tests will be graded (numerical, NJ-ASK style proficiency levels, etc...)


Can I wear anti-CCSS apparel in school?

Yes! Under the ruling of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, "students [do] not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they [step] onto school property" (Tinker v. Des Moines Ruling). The ACLU puts it this way: "You can express your opinions orally and in writing - in leaflets or on buttons, armbands, or T-shirts."


How many NJ students have refused the PARCC?

NJ Kids and Families, which was created by the NJEA, reports that upwards of 50,000+ NJ students have refused the PARCC.