Cheers All Around for New Jersey’s State Board of Education!

Today the New Jersey Board of Education took a courageous step towards maintaining high-quality schools for students and families. Instead of rubber-stamping Commissioner Repollet (and NJEA’s) recommendations for watering down standards (ex.: a student would be deemed eligible for a high school diploma by scoring a 440 on the math SAT section, which the College Board considers in the 25th percentile of a nationally representative sample), the Board decided to not take action today. Members also tabled additional recommendations on the proposed regulations to the statewide assessment system.

We’re not out of the woods yet, folks. But here’s to our state BOE for its deliberate and prudent consideration of what’s best for kids and families. Seems we’re not quite ready to reduce a high school diploma to seat time.

Here’s a statement just issued by Shelley Skinner, Executive Director of the Better Education for Kids:

Ensuring that we are challenging our students academically in order to be ready for the workplace and/or higher education is vital to our State’s future.  The elimination of four of the six assessments in high schools is potentially very harmful to our State’s economic competitiveness and especially to the accountability of our most vulnerable students and families.  Today, the State Board exercised important judgment to slow down this process and allow for a data-driven discussion about why these changes should be made and how/if they will help student outcomes. We cannot allow anecdotal evidence to be the basis of our State’s education policymaking nor can we accept that it is too difficult to improve learning outcomes after 8th grade.

Without an objective tool to measure a child’s needs, like an assessment, we have no credible way to seek remediation for struggling kids, regardless of whether that student is in middle school or high school we have an obligation to them to assess and work to improve any educational deficiencies.  We need to hold our schools and districts accountable and guarantee they are providing every educational tool at their disposal until the day a child graduates high school. We cannot signal that we are giving up on children by not encouraging rigor and success through every step of their educational journey.

And here’s the statement from Patricia Morgan at JerseyCAN:

JerseyCAN is grateful that the State Board of Education is carefully considering the proposed changes to our state’s assessment system. A sound educational rationale for how the elimination of these assessments will close the achievement gap and ensure our students are college and career ready has yet to be provided. We ask that the State Board continue to diligently question the educational basis for these regulation changes to ensure that parents have objective data about their children and schools’ performance and we can provide schools and parents with the data to help drive educational improvements.
What do you think?

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