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Today the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education announced that they’ve cancelled the fall Start Strong statewide assessments. These tests were given first in Fall 2021 because the annual tests required by federal law, the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments, couldn’t be given due to pandemic-induced school closures. Start Strong was intended as a stop-gap measure so teachers, parents, schools, and the state could gauge student learning loss.
Start Strong tests were on the assessment schedule for Fall 2023. Yesterday Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno and Kim Eulner issued a press release calling for their cancellation: “The Start Strong testing program is an expensive, one-size-fits-all approach that does not address the underlying issues of underfunding and does not reflect the reality of our schools today.”
Julie Borst of Save Our Schools-NJ weighed in: “The state spent over $5 million on a useless test. That money would have been much better used directly for student support – like increasing the funding for the School-Based Youth Services Programs,” she said. “Hopefully, that funding goes to the training of tutors for the high-dose tutoring initiative.”
And, in fact, in a memo from Jorden Schiff, the acting assistant commissioner division of teaching and learning services, says nj.com, while “the Start Strong program provided “timely data to assist schools and districts in their decision-making process,” the five million dollars would be “transferred to the statewide volunteer tutoring effort, the New Jersey Partnership for Student Success (NJPSS).”