The New Jersey Department of Education released results school by school standardized spring testing on Friday, a long-awaited decision that supporters have called crucial to planning the best ways to recoup learning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey was among the last three states to release results on its public scorecards, along with Vermont and Maine, according to the Collaborative for Student Success, which monitors the release of those scores.
Many state education advocates, lawmakers, and board members had called on the department to publish school-by-school figures earlier. The department released scores to districts and families earlier in the fall and released grade level scores last week, which showed a loss of seven years academic progress.
The most comprehensive results come from the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments in English/Language Arts for Years 3-9, Math for Years 3-8 plus Geometry and Algebra I and II, and in science for years 5, 8 and 11.
Scores are broken down into five skill levels. The first three are “not yet meeting requirements”, “partially meeting requirements” and “approaching expectations”. Students considered competent achieved levels 4 and 5, “meeting expectations” or “exceeding expectations”.
The results are also presented by school, district, and state, by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, gender, special needs, and English learner status.
For example, grade 7 English/Language Arts results showed that 52.7% of all students were proficient. There was a 26.4 point gap between economically disadvantaged students and those who were not.
Statistics have been edited to protect the anonymity of individual students.
Steven Baker, spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, said while it’s good to know what happened in the last year, it’s much more important to agree on the next steps.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we face a critical shortage of educators that threatens to hamper our recovery efforts,” he said.
Betsy Ginsburg, leader of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group representing about 100 districts, hoped the findings would help districts refine their efforts to address the social and emotional effects of learning delay.
“Scores should not be used in a pejorative or political way to further demoralize educators and students,” she said. “It is essential to remember that test scores are, at best, snapshots in time and do not tell the whole story of where our students are now or where they will be in the future.”
Calling it a “sobering day on the state of education” in the state, Paula White, executive director of JerseyCAN, an education advocacy group, said information and transparency remained important to guide the next steps.
“We might be able to slow down the sharing of information, or even throw information out on the Friday before the holiday season – but the facts still matter,” she said. “And while this conversation should have started months ago – tomorrow the real work begins.”
She said she and other advocates would fight to make education the state’s top priority “and do whatever we can to help create a real comprehensive plan to address the crisis in the world.” ‘New Jersey Learning’.
The state also released the results of the Dynamic Learning Map tests for students with special needs, the ACCESS test for English language learners, and the New Jersey Graduation Skills Assessment tests, which are tested as possible requirements for graduation.
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Tina Kelley can be reached at [email protected].