TRENTON - Any New Jersey school that fails to have 95 percent of its students take the PARCC exams will be placed on a corrective action plan, and schools with especially high opt-out rates could have state funding withheld, state Education Commissioner David Hespe said Wednesday.
said in an interview after the Assembly Budget Committee
hearing on education that the state is taking PARCC participation rates "very seriously," even for schools that do not receive federal funding.
"We are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that we have a comfort level moving forward that we are going to hit that 95 percent," Hespe
"This is not a no harm, no foul situation here."
Public schools are required by the federal No Child Left Behind law to have 95 percent of students participate in annual state tests, and Hespe has previously warned that schools could face the loss of federal Title I funding for missing that mark on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams.
said Wednesday that the first step is corrective action plans, which could require schools to hold more informational meetings about PARCC
or to schedule face-to-face meetings with any parents who want to opt their children out of the tests.
Before levying any additional sanctions, the state would take into account whether this is the first year a district missed the 95 percent target, how much it missed it by and whether the school took actions either to prevent or promote opt outs, he
"Egregious situations" could result in the loss of federal or state funds, Hespe
Nearly 15 percent of New Jersey high school juniors refused to take PARCC
, according to preliminary "parent refusal rates" announced by the state Department of Education last week.
But the overwhelming majority, about 96 percent, of students in grades 3-8 participated statewide.
told the Assembly Budget Committee
that there will likely be schools that miss the 95 percent participation target.
Montclair High School
, for example, reported that nearly 70 percent of students refused PARCC
during the first round of testing in March.
Final school participation rates won't be available until after testing concludes later this spring, and the state still needs guidance from the U.S. Department of Education
about how to respond, Hespe
But the department isn't taking schools with high opt-out rates lightly, Hespe
"We are going to go and we are going to spend some time there and we are going to find out what happened and why," Hespe