Do you know what’s on the real test? Will New Jersey pass? These questions are at the center of JerseyCAN’s latest research report – The Real Test.
What does the report look at and discuss?
The new report:
- Explains the history of assessments in New Jersey and the current testing situation.
- Closely analyzes student achievement data to track areas of progress and lingering gaps.
- Makes recommendations to policy makers around standards and assessments.
What’s the bottom line?
When the state moved to a more rigorous assessment in 2014, there were concerns that this would negatively impact student achievement. Our research shows that the opposite occurred – proficiency rates have increased across student groups, we are closing achievement gaps and objective assessment data gives us the information we need to effectively confront the remaining gaps.
New Jersey is currently in the process of planning the next generation of our assessment system. Regardless of the politics of PARCC, there is evidence that our commitment to high standards has had positive results for our state’s students. We should not give up this positive momentum by lowering expectations.
What’s the good news?
- More students are proficient in ELA and math.
- In the 2014-15 school year, 37% of grade 10 students met or exceeded expectations in English Language Arts. By the 2017-18 school year, the number had jumped to 51%.
- 36% of students meet or exceeded expectations in Algebra I in the 2014-15 school year. 46% did so in the 2017-2018 school year.
- Growth can be seen across student groups, and New Jersey is leading the nation in closing achievement gaps.
- Since 2015, African American ELA scores are up by an average of 9.5 percentage points. Hispanic scores are up an average of 10.9 percentage points.
- This compares with the 7.8 percentage point state average growth.
Where do we still need work?
- Although progress has been made, achievement gaps persist.
- There are 50% more kids reading on grade level in Princeton than in Paterson.
- In Trenton, 18% of high-schoolers are meeting college and career readiness benchmarks in reading and writing, compared to 72% statewide.
- Some data points can be misleading when out of context, highlighting the need for multiple objective measures.
- Example: In many cities, high graduation rates stand in stark contrast to the number of students meeting or exceeding grade level proficiency standards.
- In Newark, there was a 75.7% graduation rate in 2018. However, only 32% of students met or exceeded expectations on the ELA 10 exam. 26% did so on the Algebra I exam.
- In the same year, Trenton achieved a 67.8% graduation rate, 19% on the ELA 10 exam, and 10% on the Algebra I exam.
- In Trenton, Camden, and Asbury Park, too few students have eligible data to even report on some PARCC, SAT, and/or AP and IB outcomes.
The report ends with JerseyCAN’s recommendations for policy makers to consider as the NJDOE pursues a new assessment system for future students, which fall into the following four areas: (1) Commitment and Philosophy, (2) Alignment with College and Careers, (3) Technical Details and Cost, and (4) Implementation.
Has the data we presented made you curious about your district or school’s performance? Check out the latest School Performance Reports to see how your school measures up.