Cranford, NJ – On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, education research and advocacy nonprofit JerseyCAN released “The Real Test: Are We Committed to Excellence and Equity in New Jersey?” This comprehensive report uses a detailed analysis of recent student performance data to tell an important story – Academic performance trends in English Language Arts and Math are increasing for New Jersey students across all subgroups (including racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and special needs), and our state is leading the nation in closing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students.
“These impressive gains are the result of an intentional, bipartisan path over the past several decades to raise expectations for what students must know to be prepared for success after high school,” remarked Patricia Morgan, Executive Director of JerseyCAN. “Students, with the support of educators and families, have risen to the challenge and shown that they can achieve at high levels on more rigorous state exams.”
Rather than focusing on the politics that often hinder progress when it comes to state assessments, the report focuses on “the objective evidence that our state commitment to high expectations is bearing fruit.” JerseyCAN encourages state leaders to maintain a commitment to high academic standards and real-world measures of critical thinking as they consider the future of the state assessment system and related graduation requirements. In recent months, this future has been in question following the Murphy Administration’s proposal to reduce or eliminate testing and the state Appellate Court ruling that a graduation test must be administered in 11th grade.
Mary O’Malley, a member of Gov. Jon Corzine’s High School Redesign Steering Committee, pointed to the impact of the Steering Committee on current progress. “Our common focus on student success after high school allowed us to work together and agree on an ambitious pathway for New Jersey students. Given the significant gains our students have made over the past several years, I’m sad and bewildered to see this progress endangered by special interests.”
New Jersey Business and Industry Association Vice President Mike Wallace added, “The business community is deeply invested in the education our students receive in our public schools. We must not weaken our expectations, but should build on the solid foundation we have in place. As we look for ways to improve state assessments, we must consider career and technical skills and communicate openly with employers about what students need to be successful at work.”
The report offers recommendations around four key areas as state leaders consider changes to the assessment system: commitment and philosophy, alignment with college and careers, technical details and costs, and implementation.
“While we can always improve our systems in education,” offered Rose Acerra, NJPTA President, “we must also be mindful of the positive gains and try to maintain the elements that are working – such as improved data for parents and educators that show how all students are doing across a variety of measures. We must include parent voices in the conversation about the next generation of tests as we work together to provide equitable opportunities for all New Jersey students to be prepared for a successful future.”
The full report can be accessed on the JerseyCAN website at: https://jerseycan.org/research-showcase/the-real-test-are-we-committed-to-excellence-and-equity-in-new-jersey/.
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