We Raise New Jersey just issued a statement about a critical decision facing the State Board of Education: Does the Board defer to Gov. Murphy and Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet’s deal with NJEA to create a statewide 64 Floor by eliminating meaningful assessments for high school students? Or should the Board press the State Legislature (not sure how this works, but somehow it does) to pass Assembly Bill 4957 which “eliminate[s] requirements that graduation proficiency tests be administered in eleventh grade?”
Unless you’ve been following along, you’re probably lost. So, a brief catch-up.
The NJ Department of Education has been administering PARCC tests (now called “New Jersey Student Learning Assessments,” nicely aligned with grade-level content) for five years and every year students and teachers rise to the challenge. But Gov. Murphy promised NJEA leaders he’d get rid of PARCC “Day One” and, while his math skills may be lacking, he hasn’t lost sight of his vow. So, after almost two years of dithering (sorry, focus groups and creation of something called “DOE 2.0”), Repollet proposed to the State Board a solution in search of a problem: We’ll get rid of the PARCC tests and spend millions of dollars creating new tests that will be unaligned with grade-level content.
So much better, right?
Here’s We Raise NJ’s take:
The latest regulatory proposal from the New Jersey Department of Education would instead create a brand new assessment to test students on content they learned years before and cause undue stress for eleventh graders already facing exams such as the SAT, ACT, and AP.
In all fairness to Repollet, that creaky old state law (passed in 1980) does specify that diploma-qualifying tests be taken in eleventh grade. Education Law Center, also in thrall to the 64 Floor (not to mention its primary funder NJEA), took the DOE to State Superior Court, which ruled that statute indeed restricted diploma-qualifying tests to 11th grade.
Of course, there’s an amendment to that law sitting right on the Assembly floor that would solve the whole mess.
But if we solved the mess then there would be no reason to spend millions of dollars creating new tests that kids would have to take years after they learned the material.
Your government and taxes at work.
It would SO EASY for the Legislature to pass that law. It would be SO EASY to raise expectation levels in our state school system. It would be SO EASY to be honest to parents and their children about readiness for college and careers, especially since currently 46 percent of N.J. first-time college students have to take non-credit remedial courses because they’re not ready for college-level courses.
We Raise NJ lays it out: Last year over 93% of students completed Algebra 1 and about one-third completed Geometry by the end of ninth grade. So now we’re going to test them on this material in 11th grade? That’s just dumb, a waste of student time, teacher time, and classroom instructional time. So, according to We Raise NJ, the DOE and the State Board should go back to the compromise from 2018 that emerged from “meaningful feedback sessions with a variety of stakeholders” and “reduced overall state testing in high school while maintaining high expectations for students.” Parents and their kids would have a transparent look at academic growth and achievement; teachers and schools would have time to work with students who need remediation before they get to college.
All that has to happen is for the Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 4957 and Gov. Murphy to sign it.
Hope is the thing with feathers.