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Hundreds of Las Cruces students protest ‘PARCC’ exam

Hundreds of Las Cruces students banded together Monday, speaking out against the newly implemented Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or ‘PARCC’ test.

“This is a place for learning, this isn’t a place for testing and testing and testing,” one Onate High School student said.

Dozens of parents also took to the streets with signs to voice their concerns. One parent told Abc-7 she will continue to opt her fourth-grade student out of testing.

“We need to stop testing our children,” Coral Woods said.

It doesn’t appear anything will change anytime soon. Last week, a spokeswoman for the Public Education Department told Abc-7 it would be against the law if the state chose to drop an annual assessment, because they are required to test students under federal and state law.

The PARCC is being given for the first time this year. It replaces the English and Math portions of the Standards Based Assessment. In 2010, the Public Education Department adopted a new set of common core standards—essentially changing testing standards. Administrators say the test is harder.

Superintendent Stan Rounds admitted last week at a news conference, even a group of legislators in Hobbs couldn’t pass it.

“What they gave them was the fifth grade test and the majority of them were unable to complete it,” Rounds said.

Students aren’t the only ones under pressure. Fifty-percent of teacher evaluations are based on student test scores. One Alma D’Arte Charter school student says it’s adding unnecessary stress.

“Besides all the tests we have this is putting even more stress on the teachers,” he said.

One teacher, who protested outside of the LCPS administration building, says it’s unfair.

“Especially with the poverty level in New Mexico, I don’t think those things are taken into account,” she said.

Students who do not make up their absence from testing, use up one of their attempts at the exam, putting their high school diploma on the line. The PARCC is a graduation requirement. If a student opts out of testing, they instead get a Certificate of Completion. One woman, whose daughter is a Mayfield High School student, told Abc-7 she has been researching college requirements and believes her daughter will be fine without a diploma.

“Once they get to high school, it’s a little harder because it is a graduation requirement, but the more I look into it, the more I’m okay with it,” Tracy Gantzler said.

Students told Abc-7 they will continue to protest testing. One Mayfield High School student said he believes his classmates understand the ramifications. He says it’s a price they’re willing to pay.

“Since they are staying, and they’re still doing it, knowing the risk, makes all the difference…we’re more than just data,” Anthony Becerra said.

Several middle schools also participated in a walkout, including Picacho and Sierra Middle School. The district says those students face ‘ISS’ or in-school suspension.

Parents will be notified if their student walked out of testing. It will be considered an unexcused absence for high school students. If students walked out of school, they face more severe, disciplinary actions.

Abc-7 estimated at least 150 Mayfield High School students protested, more than 100 Las Cruces High students, 75 at Alma D’Arte Charter School and more than two dozen at Centennial and Onate High Schools.

Official count of absences will be totaled Tuesday.

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