Good news! The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and the State Commissioner, Lamont Repollet, slashed the stakes attached to PARCC testing. Until now, 30% of a teacher’s evaluation was tied to test scores on the Common Core PARCC Test. The governor and Commissioner just dropped it to 5%.

The practice of evaluating teachers by student test scores was heavily promoted by Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. It has been widely discredited by scholarly organizations like the American Statistical Association. It remains on the books in many states as a dead vestige of the past, a zombie policy that has never worked but never died.

New Jersey drove a stake in its icy heart.

“New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet today announced that PARCC scores will account for only five percent of a teacher’s evaluation in New Jersey next year, down from the damaging 30 percent figure mandated by his predecessors. State law continues to require that standardized test scores play some role in teacher evaluation despite the lack of any evidence that they serve a valid purpose. In fact, researchers caution against using the scores for high-stakes decisions such as teacher evaluation. By cutting the weight given to the scores to near the bare minimum, the Department of Education and the Murphy administration have shown their respect for the research. The move also demonstrates respect for the experience and expertise of parents and educators who have long maintained that PARCC—or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers—is an intrusive, harmful test that disrupts learning and does not adequately measure student learning or teacher effectiveness.

“Today’s announcement is another step by Gov. Murphy toward keeping a campaign promise to rid New Jersey’s public schools of the scourge of high-stakes testing. While tens of thousands of families across the state have already refused to subject their children to PARCC, schools are still required to administer it and educators are still subject to its arbitrary effects on their evaluation. By dramatically lowering the stakes for the test, Murphy is making it possible for educators and students alike to focus more time and attention on real teaching and learning.

“NJEA President Marie Blistan praised Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Repollet for putting the well-being of students first and for trusting parents and educators. “Governor Murphy showed that he trusts parents and educators when it comes to what’s best for students. By turning down the pressure of PARCC, he has removed a major obstacle to quality teaching and learning in New Jersey. NJEA members are highly qualified professionals who do amazing work for students every day. This decision frees us to focus on what really matters…”

“While the move to dramatically reduce the weight of PARCC in teacher evaluation is a big win for families and educators alike, it is only the first step toward ultimately eliminating PARCC and replacing it with less intrusive, more helpful ways of measuring student learning. New Jersey’s public schools are consistently rated among the very best in the nation, a position they have held for many years. Despite that, New Jersey students and educators are among the last anywhere still burdened by this failed five-year PARCC experiment. By moving away from PARCC, New Jersey’s public education community will once again be free to focus on the innovative efforts that have long served students so well.”