PARCC manual: students “refusing to test” must be “dismissed from the testing environment”

*This is an updated/corrected version of an earlier post, which was published in error before it was ready.

**You can download a complete copy of the 2015 PARCC Spring Test Coordinator Manual, which is nearly 150 pages, here.

***This post was originally published on January 21st, 2015. Please see notes at the bottom, which were added as more information–and responses to individual parents from the NJDOE–was reported.


As many people have recently discovered, the PARCC testing manual states that “non-testing students” and other “unauthorized visitors” are “prohibited from entering the testing environment.” And last week, PARCC Customer Support representatives confirmed that “non-testing students” include those whose parents have refused testing on their children’s behalf.

So according to PARCC, non-testers should not enter the testing room. At all.

Despite the directives set forth in the PARCC manual, though, some superintendents across New Jersey are still insisting that children whose parents have refused testing will not be placed in an alternate setting–and instead must “sit and stare” in the testing room with testing students.

This kind of policy is problematic for both testers and non-testers for obvious reasons, but it’s also problematic because the PARCC manual specifies that students “refusing to test” must be “dismissed from the testing environment.”

Here are the specifics:

1. Section 5.10 Develop a Test Administration Plan Logistics Plan (pages 29-30 of the manual):

“If applicable, establish school policy for dismissing students and/or allowing them to read a recreational book after completing units and communicate this information to students. Refer to Appendix C for your state’s policy.”

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2. Section 6.4.2 Dismissing Students for Misconduct (page 39 of the manual)

“The Test Administrator has the authority to dismiss any student for misconduct. If student misconduct warrants dismissal, collect the student’s test materials. The student will then be dismissed from the testing environment.

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3. Appendix C is the “State Policy Addendum,” and pages 102-105 detail New Jersey-specific policy. In reference to sections 5.10 and 6.4:

“STC calls LEA Test Coordinator immediately to report student misconduct (i.e. refusing to test, disruptive behavior, unauthorized electronics, cheating.) STC completes testing irregularity/security breach form documenting situation and provides form to LEA Test Coordinator. LEA Test Coordinator contacts Office of Assessment immediately upon receiving call from STC. LEA Test Coordinator must upload completed testing irregularity/security breach form to PearsonAccess within two days.”

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*Adding: the “misconduct” label is relatively standard language in standardized test coordinator manuals. In their NJASK refusal letters last year, many parents specifically requested that their children’s tests be voided using the V2 code listed in the NJASK manual. No children were punished for this refusal code. See here for more info.

Again, if we are to assume that Test Administrators must follow the PARCC protocol that’s outlined in the Test Coordinator Manual (and what’s the purpose of a manual if not?), students whose parents submit written refusal notifications should not be permitted in the testing environment in the first place.

If administrators disregard PARCC protocol and knowingly place non-testing students in the testing room, those administrators must then, according to the PARCC manual, dismiss the non-testing students from the testing environment.

So why put them there in the first place?

The bottom line is this: refusals can and should be acknowledged and accommodated.


*Adding Part II: As any educator who has administered or proctored a standardized test knows, failure to comply with procedures outlined in the testing manuals can be considered a breach of security, which can cost teachers their certifications. If teachers or administrators knowingly allow children who refuse to test into the testing environment–despite explicit direction from PARCC not to do so–what will the consequences be for those professionals?

*Adding Part III: There are reports that NJDOE representatives have responded to inquiries about language in the PARCC manual by insisting that they interpret the phrase “non-testing student” differently than PARCC does–and that students who refuse the test are not “non-testing students.” If this is the case and the NJDOE blatantly disregards the NJ PARCC policy, does the NJDOE have the authority to allow “unauthorized electronic devices” in the testing room, for example? Or otherwise make arbitrary, politically-motivated language interpretations to discourage refusals? What’s the purpose of a testing manual with state-specific procedures?



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4 responses to “PARCC manual: students “refusing to test” must be “dismissed from the testing environment”

  1. That’s fine with me. I’d rather submit my son to a room of asbestos than have him be anywhere near the Smarter Balanced Assessment in my state!

  2. Pingback: And the fear-mongering NJDOE spake these words, saying: | teacherbiz

  3. donna

    During our training, our testing coordinator said that “non-testing students” does NOT mean those refusing the test. It means that if there is a combination class with more than one grade, and grade 3 is testing, and there are second graders in the class, the second graders may not be in the room. I don’t know what to think. Can someone get an official definition of “non-testing students?”

  4. Bella G.

    “Non-Testing Student” means just that – if they did not specify those that “Refuse” then it includes them as well. The Test Coordinator is trying to “split-hairs” it seems….

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