The NJ Department of Education publishes test scores school by school

The New Jersey Department of Education published school-by-school results of spring standardized tests on Friday, a long-awaited move that advocates called crucial to planning the best ways to recoup learning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Jersey was one of the last three states to post its scores on its public scoreboards, along with Vermont and Maine, according to the Collaborative for Student Success, which oversees the release of those scores.

Many advocates, legislators, and members of the state board of education had called on the department to publish school-by-school figures in advance. The department released the scores to districts and families in the early fall and released the grade level scores last week, which showed a loss of seven years of academic progress.

The most comprehensive results came from the New Jersey Assessments of Student Learning in English/Language Arts for grades 3-9, in Mathematics for grades 3-8 plus Geometry and Algebra I and II, and in Science for grades 5. , 8 and 11.

Scores are divided into five levels of proficiency. The first three are “not yet compliant”, “partially compliant”, and “approaching expectations”. Students deemed proficient have achieved Levels 4 and 5, “meeting expectations” or “exceeding expectations”.

The results are also presented by school, district, and statewide, by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, gender and special needs, and English language learner status.

For example, seventh grade 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 were redacted to protect the anonymity of individual students.

Steven Baker, the spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the state, said that while it’s good to know what happened last year, it’s far more important to agree on next steps.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we are facing a critical shortage of educators that threatens to hamper our recovery efforts,” he said.

Betsy Ginsburg, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group that represents about 100 districts, hoped the results would help districts hone their efforts to deal with the social and emotional effects of learning delays.

“Scores should not be used in a pejorative or political way to further demoralize educators and students,” he said. “It is critical to remember that test scores are, at best, snapshots in time and do not tell the full story of where our students are now or where they will be in the future.”

Calling it a “sobering day for the state of education” in the state, Paula White, executive director of JerseyCAN, an education advocacy group, said information and transparency remain important to guide next steps.

“One could slow down the sharing of information, even downloading information on the Friday before the holiday season, but the facts still matter,” he said. “And while this conversation should have started months ago, the real work begins tomorrow.”

She said she and other advocates would fight to make education the state’s top priority “and do everything we can to help create a real joint work plan to address New Jersey’s learning crisis.”

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 Proficiency Assessment tests, which are being evaluated as possible graduation requirements.

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