- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Students in New Mexico who oppose a new assessment test have a right to march in protest but must return to classes, the governor said.

The rigorous test is the best option for New Mexico students, and everyone needs to embrace it since the state educational system is struggling, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque (https://goo.gl/zdQxsB) on Wednesday.

Her comments come as hundreds of high school students across the state walked out of schools this week to protest the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, or PARCC.

The tests have angered parents and teachers across the nation as millions of U.S. students started taking the rigorous tests aligned with Common Core standards that outline math and language skills that should be mastered in each grade.

Opponents say the exams distract from real learning, put added stress on students and staff members, and waste resources, especially in poor districts.

Martinez said students who walked out of classes were only hurting themselves.

“They have every right to march. I’m not saying they don’t. But when it’s time to be in class, that’s where they belong - in class,” Martinez said.

Dozens of students and parents crowded an Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting on Wednesday to speak out against the test and demand that it be discontinued.

“Our ultimate goal is to get rid of high-stakes standardized tests that are not clearly defined nor addressed in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” said Astrid Carrette, a senior at Albuquerque High School and a leader of a walkout at the school.

New Mexico is among a dozen states debuting the tests this year.

Parents and students in Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York have opted out of the exams. Others are lobbying lawmakers and education officials for change.

In Florida last week, Gov. Rick Scott suspended spring testing for 11th graders.

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Information from: KOAT-TV, https://www.thenewmexicochannel.com/index.html

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