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New Jersey Parents Say Their Kids Won't Be Taking New PARCC Proficiency Exam

ISLEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A math and language arts test has been causing controversy in the state of New Jersey, with some parents refusing to allow their kids even to take the exam.

As CBS2's Christine Sloan reported, New Jersey this year is one of 11 states, along with the District of Columbia, to administer to students the computer-based proficiency test called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – PARCC for short.

In Montclair, some parents have banded together and announced that their kids will have nothing to do with the test.

"I feel like our children are being set up to fail," said Beth O'Donnell-Fischer of Montclair.

Jesse Felder-Pfaff, 10, is a straight-A student in the Clifton School District. He said he will take a stand against the test when he is confronted with it.

"I am refusing because, like, I took a practice test. I tried a practice test on the computer," he said. "There is so much reading to do – like, (sigh)!"

Jesse's mother, who has a master's degree in education, said her son is overwhelmed. Tova Felder said she has been told students can refuse the test – which will be given in grades 3 through 11 across New Jersey starting in March.

"They're hard not so much because the math is hard, but because the questions are convoluted," Felder said.

Felder's main concern was that the PARCC is not a pencil-and-paper exam, but one that is taken in class on a computer.

"In field tests all across the country, there are kids who cannot log in at all; kids who accidentally lock themselves out of the test," Felder said.

CBS2 reached out to the nonprofit group that creates the tests. A representative said the field exams were successful, but referred further questions to the state Department of Education.

A representative of that department sent a list of answers to frequently asked questions, saying, "We've learned colleges don't look at the tests, and grades in class aren't connected to them, but results will be used to improve classroom instruction and evaluate teacher performances."

The department also said educators will be on hand to help students during tests.

But many parents disagreed with the amount of attention the test has been getting in everyday classroom lessons.

"My kids spend six hours, seven hours in school a day - and they spend the majority of time preparing for this test," said Beth Dreifach of Montclair.

The New Jersey Department of Education said it should take younger kids five hours to complete the exam, and six hours for older students. But kids will have as many hours as they need.

Parents will have a chance to voice their concerns at several public meetings.

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