Today Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan and her team will unveil student levels of proficiency as gauged by last spring’s NJ Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA). There are four levels of proficiency: Below Proficient (Level 1), Near Proficiency (Level 2), Proficient (Level 3), and Advanced Proficiency (Level 4). Levels 1 and 2 indicate below-grade-level proficiency. Levels 3 and 4 indicate students performed at grade-level or above. The tests were in English Language Arts (or reading), math, and science. The DOE has broken the assessments down by ethnicity (African-American, white, Asian, Hispanic) and demographics (Educationally-Disadvantaged, English Language Learner, and Students with Disabilities). Staffers will also compare the results to the National Assessments of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely considered the most accurate way of measuring student academic progress.
In addition, the DOE will reveal the results of a field test for the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA). Under state law, students are required to take a high school graduation-qualifying assessment, which measures whether prospective graduates have mastered 10th grade reading and Algebra 1. The only grades are “pass” or “fail.” If students fail the test they can take it again or use a portfolio to demonstrate academic proficiency. Contrary to what you may have heard, no student will not graduate based on the NJGPA. And, as reported here, last year the DOE lowered standards for this new test and changed the definition of a NJ high school diploma from “college and career ready” to “high school graduation ready.”
So what are the results?
There were huge achievement gaps. For instance, 80% of Black students and 74% of Hispanic students failed the ELA test; 70% of Asian students and 53.5% of white students passed it. In math, 84.7% of Asian students passed the assessment but only 28.3% of economically-disadvantaged students did.
Notes: Students in grades 3-9 take the test in reading (ELA). Math is broken down into grades 3-8, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. If and 8th-grader is taking Algebra 1, he or she will take that test instead of the grade 8 math test. The DOE compared spring 2022 scores to spring 2019 pre-pandemic scores and showed graphs indicating trends from 2015-2022.
With the exception of Geometry and Algebra 2, all scores dropped from 2019. It’s likely that fewer students took the more advanced math tests than in previous years, accounting for the growth in proficiency. The DOE does not include participation rates in its presentation.
In science, given in grades 3,5, and 11, student proficiency dropped an average of 4 points in grades 3 and 5; proficiency levels increased by 1.6% in grade 11.
Again, there were huge achievement gaps. While 58.5% of white students showed proficiency in reading, only 30.5% of Black students met that metric. In math, 71.7% of Asian student were proficient, compared to 19.1% of Hispanic students.
The DOE also announced changes in NJ’s public school system’s ranking according to results from NAEP on 4th and 8th grade reading and math.