OROHO, PENNACCHIO, SCHEPISI: Gender Identity on State Board’s Agenda Again with New Proposal Impacting Sex Ed ClassesDecember 6, 2022
SCOOP: First Peek at New Jersey State Test Scores!December 7, 2022
Tomorrow morning the State Board of Education will hear a presentation from the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education, which will finally release some of the data from last spring’s student assessments. New Jersey has made headlines as one of two states that have failed to disclose student proficiency data that will reveal sharp drops in student proficiency.
This unwelcome status was highlighted at a forum last week, hosted by JerseyCAN and the Urban League, called “Where Are Our Kids’ Test Scores? The Importance of Tracking and Addressing Learning Loss in New Jersey.” In this latest video from NJER TV, Laura Waters breaks down the consensus among panelists: the State is harming student recovery efforts by withholding essential data and, in addition, the DOE lacks a clear strategy and vision for moving forward—as well as spending $2.8 billion in federal emergency aid. Thus we run the risk of permanently damaging the prospects of all our children.
Tomorrow New Jersey residents can listen to the State Board meeting and hear assessment results. (Here is the agenda and the link for remote viewing). But you may have to wait a while for disheartening results like 60% of graduating high school seniors failed a 10th grade reading test: the scores themselves are buried within a lengthy list of reports, including self-indulgent drivel like substituting the phrase “opportunity gap” for “achievement gap” and woke decrees like during sex education classes students will be divided not by biological gender but by gender identity.
In related news, today the NJ Joint Committee on Public Schools heard testimony from those who oppose student assessments on general principle, regardless of the information they give parents, teachers, and school districts. One testifier was Deborah Cornavaca, NJ Education Association’s Director of Government Relations, who described standardized tests, especially the one NJ uses for high school graduation, as “antithetical to educational equity” and an example of “structural racism.” (Worth noting: Prior to her new role at NJEA, Cornavaca was Gov. Murphy’s Deputy Chief of Staff.)
I don’t think low test scores are an indication of structural racism. I think low test scores are an indication of structural dysfunction. At last week’s forum, the panelists stressed the importance of access to complete information in order to engineer interventions–paid for by your tax dollars—to ensure that students succeed. “As the state, school districts, and families grapple with an unprecedented need for learning recovery throughout the state,” JerseyCAN’s Paula White explains, “we need to make sure information precedes interventions, not the other way around.”
This (belated) flow of information will begin tomorrow. But in order to address that “unprecedented need for learning recovery,” New Jerseyans must not be mollified by cop-outs like “tests are the embodiment of structural racism” and insist that leaders be held accountable for spending learning recovery money wisely and focusing not on politically-correct jargon but on what our kids need to be academically and professionally successful.