Politico NJ has published its take on the New Jersey Education Department’s release of district-by-district state test scores which students took eight months ago. As a public service for those without a subscription to PoliticoPro, here are the highlights from journalist Carly Sitrin:
With little fanfare, the state DOE late last Friday published 25 different spreadsheets of data broken down by grade level (3-11), subject area (English, math and science) and test (NJSLA, the Dynamic Learning Maps test for students with disabilities, the ACCESS test for English learners and the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment)…The results published Friday aren’t user friendly and require significant Microsoft Excel knowledge to navigate. In previous years, the DOE has released district- and school-level downloadable files and summaries. Those were absent as of late Tuesday morning.
Some education advocates, lawmakers and parents have been demanding the state release the detailed scores for months, claiming the data are critical to directing targeted learning supports to struggling students.
Sitrin reports that most NJ students are not reading or doing math at grade-level. Achievement gaps between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers increased during the pandemic. Students from low-income homes, those learning English, and those with disabilities fared the worst. “One might be able to slow down the sharing of information, even dump information the Friday before the Holiday Season — but facts still matter,” Paula White, executive director of the statewide education advocacy organization JerseyCAN, said in a statement after the release of the data. “Information sharing and transparency remain potent tools to help inform our learning recovery.
The article references a new report from the New Jersey Public Charter School Association that shows Black and Latino students enrolled in charters in the six largest charter cities (Newark, Trenton, Paterson, Camden, Jersey City and Plainfield) were twice as likely to be proficient in English and math compared to their district peers and concludes, “charter school leaders and advocates are likely to lean on this data when applying to renew their charters or request permission to expand next year.”
“With this new data, NJDOE has the information they need to make the right decisions for students and families on charter school application decisions,” Harry Lee, president of the NJPCSA said in a statement. “Families can’t wait any longer and we must continue to invest in what works.”
Under Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, charter growth has slowed in the state. This year the DOE denied several charter schools’ expansion requests and closed one Newark school, drawing criticism from the NJPCSA and charter families.
The next round of charter school decisions are expected to be announced by Feb. 1.