By Michael Hill
The New Jersey Department of Education filled the atrium of the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group with leaders from the world of business, industry and academics to reveal its first results of PARCC testing.
“The scores will show that we have great challenges ahead. What PARCC will provide is evidence that our country is not properly aligned graduation from high school with the expectations of colleges and career,” NJ Department of Education commissioner David Hespe said.
The statewide results show 55 percent of third graders not meeting expectations in math, 45 percent meeting or exceeding expectations. For seventh grade 63 percent fall short, and 37 percent measure up. For PARCC English and Language Arts, the rounded off data showing about 57 percent of third graders don’t meet expectations, only about 44 percent do. 60 percent of 11th graders fall short, about 41 percent meet expectations.
“But the outcomes at the high school level indicate that we have significant work to do to ensure that our high school course work is aligned with our higher standards,” said Bari Erlichson, Assistant Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Education.
“The data is not a criticism of the work or motivation of our teachers, or our school leaders in our schools,” Hespe said. “But represents a starting point for a shared commitment to raise our academic expectations.”
While some opted out, many New Jersey students took PARCC testing to measure how they’re performing with Common Core teaching. The Department of Education pulled out some big guns to drive home the point of the challenging today’s students.
“If you go today, and you look at the Department of Labor website, there are thousands of jobs today in STEM that are unfilled,” said Joel Bloom, President of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“Over the past several years, which is why these numbers aren’t a surprise, we have seen at Ramapo roughly 30 percent of our incoming class requiring remediation in at least one skill area,” said Ramapo President Peter Mercer.
“75 percent of our employers have told us that the skill deficit has made it difficult to actually maintain production levels to meet consumer and customer demand in the State of New Jersey,” said Melanie Willoughby from the NJBIA.
The NJ Education Association responded by saying: “Parents and policymakers alike should be very careful about drawing any conclusions from the data released today, or from the more detailed data that will be released in the coming weeks. As we have said from the beginning, the PARCC test is a deeply flawed assessment tool.”