Student test scores in New Jersey holding steady

The release of New Jersey’s test scores is an annual rite of passage for public schools, an instant snapshot of success — or not so much — over the past year. As the state phases out one era of school testing and enters a new one, the Christie administration is saying that staying level is good enough for now.

The state Department of Education yesterday released the school-by-school scores on the state’s NJASK tests for elementary and middle schools and the HSPA graduation test for the high schools.

The statewide scores were announced earlier this year, but yesterday’s presentation before the State Board of Education provided further detail on the results, in addition to the individual school data.

The main message was that relatively static scores over the past few years are actually positive signs, given New Jersey has been moving to the new Common Core State Standards. Other states had seen sharp drops during the transition.Some, like Kentucky and North Carolina, have seen 30-point drops in their passing rates, officials said.

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“It is hard to celebrate a flat outcome, but it is in fact a pretty good outcome,” said assistant education commissioner Bari Erlichson.

In 2013-2014, 66 percent of the state’s students had passed the NJASK’s language arts test, a tiny drop from the previous year and a three-point drop from five years ago. Seventy-four percent passed in math, also a small drop from the year before but a two-point increase over five years.

In the high schools, 85 percent of first-time test takers passed in math, and 93 percent in language arts, both marginal changes from the year before.

New Jersey’s transition is culminating this year with the state adopting the new full-aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) online exams.

And Erlichson all but acknowledged there is sure to be a drop in passing rates under the new tests, enough so that the state next year will not be doing a year-to-year comparison as it sets a new benchmark.

“It is the end of an era,” Erlichson said. “We intend to treat the PARCC data as the new baseline.”


NJ Spotlight, an independent online news service on issues critical to New Jersey, makes its in-depth reporting available to NewsWorks.


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