ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The state’s largest school district will start the controversial PARCC test Monday morning. However, there might be a lot of empty seats. Students from several APS schools say they’re planning to walk out, even though school officials say there will be consequences for those who don’t take it.
This is the first year New Mexico’s students will take the computerized, federal test. The state plans to use the results to grade teachers and schools. Yet, some students say it’s not a fair way to gauge student achievement or teacher effectiveness. That’s why students like Anna Bentham-Grey are planning to walk out.
“I believe that the PARCC specifically doesn’t accurately assess the academics, knowledge of what students are learning in their classrooms,” said Bentham-Grey.
Bentham-Grey is a student at Highland High School. She says she expects more than 160 students at Highland to walk out. Yet, they’re not the only ones. Students at Madison Middle School and Del Norte High School say they’re also planning to protest PARCC. That’s despite warnings from APS. The district says any student who walks out will get a zero for that portion of the test and an unexcused absence. KRQE News 13 has learned some students at Los Lunas schools are also planning to walk out. Hundreds of Santa Fe students walked out on the tests last week.
Students took to social media to organize PARCC protests. One student wrote, “on Monday morning, when the bell rings to go inside, we’re all going to stay outside, refuse to go in and yell ‘stop the tests.'” There are event pages on Facebook organizing walk-outs. Some students are encouraging their friends to spread the word, others have made T-shirts. Even parents are helping their students organize protests.
Yet, the Department of Education is speaking out, too. Sunday, The Albuquerque Journal featured an op-ed from Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. She wrote that the test is designed to get students to stop memorizing and start using critical thinking skills, saying it will pay off in the long run.
But some students aren’t buying it.
“People are not OK with this and we really want to send that message,” says Highland High School Student Conner Guiney.
Many parents opposed to the test have decided to “opt out” their students. Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces districts made the forms available online.
APS says these tests are mandated by the State of New Mexico. They say they respect the right of individuals to demonstrate as long as the demonstrations are safe, orderly and don’t require students to lose academic time.