The vocal testing "opt out" movement in Montclair Public Schools resulted in a nearly 40 percent test refusal rate, according to a report.
Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for 
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on April 03, 2015 at 2:19 PM, updated 
April 03, 2015 at 7:32 PM

Of the district's 4,623 students, 1,795, or about 39 percent, refused the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams, according to a report.

The highest individual school opt-out rate came at Montclair High School, where 56.9 percent of students refused, the report said. About 25 percent of elementary school students and 37 percent of middle school students refused PARCC.

Montclair parents were among the state's most vocal in opposing the math and English tests and advocating for students who refuse PARCC to be removed from the testing room and provided alternative activities.

Colleen Martinez, a parent who testified against PARCC at both local and state board of education meetings, said she had no idea what to expect the participation rate would be.

"I was actually really thrilled because it shows that clearly quite a few parents are following what is going on and are concerned and don't believe that the PARCC is going to be valuable to their kids or to the schools," she said.

Martinez told the state board of education in January she was stumped when she took the third grade practice test and worried how her daughter would feel taking the test. Other parents have also said they find the computerized tests unnecessarily confusing and believe PARCC won't be useful in gauging student achievement, among other parent concerns.

Test participation rates reported by districts so far have varied from district to district and between grade levels. New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hepse said last month high school participation is particularly low because the tests aren't being used as a graduation requirements.

On Wednesday, Hepse said the state was approaching 1.6 million tests completed, meaning close to 800,000 students had already participated of the 896,000 projected to take PARCC.

The first testing window closed at the end of this week for most schools, but high schools with block scheduling will continue testing through April, Hespe said. Other students will test again in late April or during May.

The state has said it cannot provide official test participation rates or individual school rates until after testing concludes.

Adam Clark may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind on Facebook.



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