CORRECTION: Technically Maine, Maryland, and Vermont have, in addition to New Jersey, not released statewide standardized test results from last spring. As noted below, Vermont didn’t give any state tests in spring 2022. Maine switched vendors last spring; FutureEd says it is impossible to make year-to-year comparisons. Maryland won’t release data until early 2023 because the state department says it needs more time to “set standards.” So New Jersey is one of two states –the other is Maryland–that hasn’t released statewide test scores. NJ Ed Report regrets the error.
Yet another New Jersey news outlet –the Star-Ledger--is picking up on the the State Department of Education’s failure to be honest with parents about the extent of statewide learning loss as revealed by last spring’s standardized tests. (Also see NJ Spotlight’s coverage.) Previously I had noted that NJ was one of only three states to continue to conceal results, the others being Pennsylvania and Vermont. But now we take the top prize: Pennsylvania released statewide scores Monday and it turns out Vermont cancelled last spring’s tests as they change to a different vendor so there’s nothing to report.
If you’re keeping score, this means New Jersey is the only state in the country that hasn’t released test scores to the public. Parents have their individual kids’ results but the Murphy Administration’s reluctance to confront bad news means educators and analysts have no way to look statewide at subgroups (Black students, low-income students, students with disabilities, Hispanic students) and start strategically planning for a statewide effort to combat learning loss.
The Star-Ledger looks at one district, Newark Public Schools, which just published test scores for individual schools, invaluable in a district with 69 schools for parents to choose from (not counting the 20,000 students who attend charter schools there). “I think it’s really important that we have transparency,” said Harry Lee, president and CEO of the New Jersey Charter School Association, who welcomed publication of individual school scores.
According to Superintendent Roger León. 12.7% of Newark students were proficient in math in 2022, compared to 27.2% in 2019. In literacy, the district fell to 26.2% proficient last Spring from 35.7% in 2019. (Newark did not publish science score; the scores I’ve seen are quite low.) Yet scores among schools varied a great deal. For instance, at Avon Elementary School only 2.3% of students were proficient in math but at Mount Vernon Elementary School 18.5% were proficient.
From the Ledger:
John Abeigon, the president of the Newark Teachers Union, was skeptical of the district’s motives for publishing scores for individual schools. Rather than transparency, Abeigon suggested that León was trying to shift attention on 2022′s declining scores from him and his central administration to the school principals. I don’t know about the willingness of any administrator in this district to talk on the record, but they are routinely humiliated, as are teachers, Abeigon said.