As one of her first acts as New Mexico’s new governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state will stop using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam before the beginning of the next school year.
State senator John Sapien, who has introduced legislation several times to stop New Mexico using the testing, voiced his criticism last month: “It’s very prohibitive, it’s all online. Some parts are not in the multi-languages that we need, like Spanish. So, we end up using part of the [Standards-Based Assessment]—the old test—to meet some of the requirements that the federal government has for us.”
“I know that PARCC isn’t working,” Lujan Grisham said during a news conference at the state capitol after signing a second order eliminating the use of PARCC to evaluate teachers. “We know that around the country.” The new Democratic governor said she is confident a new state-specific assessment system will be in place by August and will meet federal requirements, adding that parents should “expect to see New Mexico transition immediately out of high-stakes testing.”
“It will be a huge morale-booster” for teachers, said Charles Goodmacher, the government and media relations director for the National Education Association-New Mexico union. “It could even convince some people who were thinking about leaving to stay longer.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said, “The executive orders by Governor Lujan Grisham make clear that, at least in New Mexico, the days of reducing students to a test score and rating educators with a faulty algorithm are over. The governor recognizes what renowned scientists have been saying for years—that an overreliance on standardized testing turns schools from welcoming learning sanctuaries to testing factories.
“It’s telling that the first action by Governor Lujan Grisham is focused on strengthening public education by first and foremost helping students and their educators. After years of former governor Susana Martinez’s obsession with testing over teaching, New Mexico now has a governor who wants to work with educators, not against us, and do what works for kids, parents, and schools. Elections matter. Thank you, Governor.”
However, some groups voiced concern over the move. Amanda Aragon, executive director of the nonprofit group NewMexicoKidsCAN, told the Albuquerque Journal, “I think the criticisms of PARCC tend not to be based in real information.”
New Mexico began using the PARCC exam in 2015 for students in third through eleventh grades. On New Year’s Eve, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that the state could not require students to pass PARCC to graduate from high school. Students will still take the test this summer but will not need to pass it to receive their diplomas. Only four states—Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico—and the District of Columbia continue to use the PARCC test.