By Desirée Taylor
Grade school student test scores were flat in New Jersey in 2013 compared to the previous year. This may not sound a like a reason to celebrate but it was welcome news at today’s State Board of Education meeting. That’s because these achievement tests had been redesigned with tougher questions to match tougher core curriculum standards adopted three years ago.
“On our state assessments 3rd thru 8th grade test called the NJASK, slightly up in reading but basically flat. On HSPA we saw modest gains,” said Chris Cerf NJ Education Commissioner.
The achievement gap between whites and minorities remains high. However there are some positive signs.
“Paterson has shown some gains, four points over last two years. JC as well with five points,” said Bari Erlichson, DOE official.
Statewide, New Jersey 8th graders ranked 2nd in the nation on the math test, Massachusetts was number one. But the bar will be raised even higher soon when New Jersey adopts a brand-new, even tougher, achievement exam. Other states that have administered this test have seen scores drop.
“When you raise expectations fewer people will meet them. We think early evidence sort of violent disruption in percentage of kids proficient is going to be less extreme in New Jersey than other cases but can’t say that in a statistically way. Fact we made test harder and stayed the same is a positive sign,” said Cerf.
So how will all of this impact teacher evaluations. Among the reforms pushed by Governor Christie? Joe Del Grosso, President of the Newark Teacher’s Union says it’s one of many unanswered questions he hopes will be answered when the state clarifies regulations on teacher evaluations.
New Jersey’s education commissioner pointed out that test scores make up a small percentage of teacher evaluations. Meanwhile, students have only two more years to prepare for the new, even harder achievement (parc) test.