LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An unprecedented number of students are opting out of standardized tests. But parents may not be aware of the consequences for refusing the PARCC test.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker found out, those consequences depend on what district the student goes to school in.

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PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Refusing to take the test amounts to misconduct, according to Little Falls Superintendent William Petrick.

“It would therefore be factually accurate to interpret the students’ refusal to take the test as misconduct,” Beth O’Donnell-Fischer read.

Those words came from a letter that Petrick sent to parents of students who opted out of PARCC.

O’Donnell-Fischer is leading the grassroots charge against the new test. Parents worried about refusal repercussions turned to her for help.

“They were scared. They felt incredibly threatened by their district. Their principals and supers were letting them know if their child was in school, they would be taking the test,” O’Donnell-Fischer said.

Parents in Haledon are also sounding the alarm. A letter they received states that students will be disciplined if they refuse to take the exam.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Wanko would not go on camera, but said he is following the state mandate. He wants to ensure his schools get federal funding. In order to get the money, 95 percent of students must sit for the test.

“Discipline will be based upon the student’s conduct and may include, but is not limited to removal from the testing environment, detention, and or suspension,” a letter to parents read.

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New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe is leaving it up to localities.

“Districts apply their own attendance policies and code of student conduct as necessary,” he said.

Opt out options vary. In Livingston, Superintendent James O’Neill is confident attendance won’t ultimately be required for funding, so he is giving parents the choice.

“I never want to be in a position of saying to a child, ‘Do you want to take this test today, or do you want to listen to your mother?’ I don’t think that’s an appropriate role for districts,” O’Neill said.

Parents asked schools to cooperate.

“I think the job of the super is to best meed the needs of the district and children, and when you have parents who are giving feedback saying this isn’t meeting where our children are, it should be the job of the super to listen to that and work with parents,” Christine McGoey said.

New Jersey law and regulation require students to participate in the state testing program and do not include opt-out provisions, the state said.

In Livingston, more than 1,000 parents are refusing to have their child take the PARCC test, while in other districts without an opt out policy parents are left waiting to see what will happen to their child on test day.

Testing began in some districts last Friday, the majority begin taking the PARCC on Monday.


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