Hundreds of Hobbs High Schoolers Protest Against State's Standardized Testing

Hundreds of Hobbs High Schoolers Protest Against State's Standardized Testing

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

HOBBS - Hundreds of high school students in Hobbs took to the football field on Monday morning. They're protesting New Mexico's standardized testing which began on Monday.

Movements like this are happening statewide in New Mexico with students frustrated about the material in the new exam.

Students all across New Mexico are hosting walk-outs in protest of the PARCC standardized testing. At 8:20 a.m. Monday morning, hundreds of Hobbs High School students walked out from class onto the football field for their own peaceful protest.

"I'm tired of just being a number in the school and I'm tired of just being a test dummy for everything," Hobbs 9th grader, Seilo Casillas, said.

"It's pretty much for the teacher's purposes to see if they get paid better. We're not just here for testing, we're here to learn," Hobbs 10th grader, Jakob Gaston, said.

In a phenomenon seen across the State of New Mexico, high school students are making sure everyone hears one message: They do not approve of the state's PARCC assessment.

"Most of the stuff that's on it, we haven't even learned yet. It's gonna be really hard and it could affect my graduation and it could affect the college I go to. I don't want some random test to affect my life," Casillas said.

"It shows people that we actually have respect to stand up and show that we have a voice," 9th grader, Meredith Jensen, said.

The PARCC test - or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is new to New Mexico this year. This annual test is all electronic and focuses on English Language Arts and Math for students grades 3 to 11. According to the New Mexico Public Education Department, the PARCC replaced the old SBA test and reduces testing time by 2.5 hours.

"It's grading our teachers and our schools by how well a child takes this silly test," Hobbs Parent, Pat Allen, said.

Hanna Skandera, the Secretary of Public Education for the State of New Mexico, says the PARCC assessment does impact the teacher's evaluation, but not this year.

"The first time it will impact the teacher's evaluation is actually next year and the maximum it can impact their evaluation is 11%," Skandera said.

She adds that federal and state law require that all students take the test. If they don't, it could mean their high school diploma. But there are other options.

"Our juniors, this is the first way for them to demonstrate they're ready to graduate. By first taking the PARCC, and if they struggle with that, then after taking the PARCC as their primary way to demonstrate that they're ready for graduation, there are other opportunities called Alternate Demonstrations of Competency to demonstrate they're ready for graduation. But they've gotta take the PARCC assessment first," Skandera said.

Some Hobbs parents, like many across the state, are choosing to opt their children out.

"It does not provide any sort of reflection with accuracy of what our kids do or do not know. Its un-benchmarked. They can't even tell the kids what it means to pass or fail," Hobbs parent, Mika Newey, said.

"We opted out of the NMSBA test last year, and had my kids still been in public school this year, we would have opted out of this test also," Parent, Kristen Liles who chose to home-school her children due to the SBA testing, said.

T.J. Parks, Superintendent of Hobbs Municipal Schools, says students were given the opportunity to protest until 10:00 a.m. Monday with no penalty. They were then asked to go to class. Those who did not return were counted absent.

In the meantime, students say until the test is stopped, they won't stop protesting.