By NATALIE SINNIS and CHRISTINE TORRES
We are writing to support Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to eliminate PARCC testing in New Mexico.
As public school teachers in Los Alamos working with grades 4-6, we have supervised the administration of PARCC testing for several years. We have witnessed first hand the shortcomings with this test and the negative impact it has had year after year.
As teachers, we are expected to use a holistic approach when teaching children. These needs are well beyond the range of what the PARCC testing can assess.
High stakes testing does not see our students as individuals with individual needs. The complexities of our students cannot be measured in a one-size fits all test.
The math portion of PARCC is language heavy and relies on PARCC’s inconsistent use of math vocabulary. For example, if a teacher uses the word “average” and students are tested on the definition of “mean”, the child is penalized, and in turn, the teacher appears to not have taught that concept.
For students with disabilities, PARCC testing is agonizing. Students with an identified reading disability are often reading multiple grade levels above what they can currently decode, without the ability to give a test with simplified language that measures the same concepts. PARCC penalizes our children who cannot read well, a cognitive process for which they are receiving specialized instruction, without measuring the gains they are making at their individualized level.
Teachers believe in accountability and data-driven instruction. We use formal and informal assessments daily to tailor our teaching to meet our students’ needs.
PARCC data is not available until after the end of the school year, even when results are released earlier than the prior years. It is too late to use this data to be utilized to inform our teaching or target our instruction for these students. When NMPED does give us the data, it is often unreliable with teachers placed in wrong districts, student rosters that are inaccurate, and no response when an appeal is made to correct this. We cannot trust the information presented to us, yet are asked to accept an evaluation score based on this.
We are excited about the changes coming and believe that by replacing PARCC with a test created by the stakeholders directly involved, we will be able to level the playing field for all of our learners, while providing teachers with a data tool that works to create an improved learning environment for our students.
Governor Lujan Grisham has made it a priority to help teachers create a positive classroom culture for our students and we applaud her for making forward looking changes to benefit New Mexico’s families, teachers, and students.