Protesters rally behind teacher suspended in connection with PARCC Exam

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — As public school students across Rhode Island prepared to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Exam on Monday, parents and students protested at one high school after a local teacher was dismissed from his duties for talking about the test.

The controversial exam, a new standardized test for students, sparked a protest at Walsh High School Monday morning. William Ashton, a teacher at Walsh, told Eyewitness News that he was escorted from the school on Friday after he spoke with students about the upcoming exam. He says he has been placed on paid suspension.

Parents and students involved in the protest say the situation is not right.

“This is a valuable teacher. He’s been in the classroom for over twenty years and he needs to get back to where he belongs — to teaching the children,” said Kathy Norton, a parent of a student involved in the protest. “Mr. Ashton is the kind of teacher students remember for the rest of their lives.”

Students also took to social media, saying Ashton was only trying to clear up confusion about the test.

Pawtucket School Superintendent Patricia Dicenso released a statement, saying in part, “What teachers say on their own time is their business so long as it does not disrupt the school environment. During the work day, however, I expect all teaching staff to teach pursuant to out curriculum.”

Dicenso did not confirm Ashton’s suspension.

The PARCC Exam was given on Monday, but technically students were able to opt out if they chose to do so.

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