TEAM — Together Everyone Achieves More!Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 1/3/2023
2022 Student Assessment Results – No Surprises and Recent Improvement!
Educators have shown little surprise learning of the state and national outcomes for 2022 student assessments compared with those of pre-pandemic years. Presentation and discussion of the 2022 NJ Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) results at the December New Jersey State Board of Education meeting acknowledged that proficiency rates fell back to 2015 levels, after gradual increases from 2015 to 2019. Scores fell more steeply for lower-performing students than for higher-performing ones and the gaps in achievement among subgroups remain large.
Students unable to attend school in-person, many without information and communications technology to participate in remote instruction; homes with little or no adult supervision due to parent work schedules; and siblings competing for technology time are factors explaining a great deal of the lack of academic progress when compared to pre-pandemic levels. As New Jersey State Board of Education member and White Plains Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca observed during discussion of the recently released 2022 NJSLA results: “Politicians will be quick to grab these numbers, and they’ll be quick to point their fingers at whatever the blame it is that they feel will suit them. The reality is what we’re seeing here is the outcomes of the human struggle. Behind the poor test results are scores of pandemic-related deaths, lost jobs, and other hardships that kept students from thriving — and that schools had no control over. There was a tremendous amount of challenge and trauma that took place all throughout the state of New Jersey and the world.”
We know that students throughout the nation have suffered historic learning setbacks with math and reading scores falling to their lowest levels since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as The Nation’s Report Card, also support this observation. While the New Jersey NAEP results remained above the national average in both English and Mathematics for 4th and 8th graders in 2022, the average scores dipped from the 2019 administration except for grade 8 reading. The state’s national ranking fell in 2022 from 2019 in all but grade 8 reading as well.
Politicians and some education advocates have reacted with great intensity in recent weeks to these newly released results. What seems to be missing in the conversation is the recognition of the effective work accomplished by all New Jersey educators throughout the pandemic and the work currently being accomplished to bolster student learning. Support for the diligence of educators and their work is garnered in NWEA Research that signal students are continuing to rebound from the pandemic. A new research brief for 7 million students in grades 3-8 in 25,000 schools who took MAP Growth reading and mathematics assessments between 2020–21 and fall 2022 shows the gap between achievement in math and reading this fall relative to pre-pandemic levels continues to narrow from spring 2021, when pandemic-related achievement gaps were at their widest.
Key Findings Include:
- Students continued to rebound in reading and math in fall 2022, but rebounding hasn’t occurred evenly across school years and summers
- Students are rebounding faster in math than reading, though learning gaps were and continue to be larger in math
- Summer slide in 2022 wasn’t as large as compared to pre-pandemic trends
- Student achievement remains lower than in a typical year and a full recovery is likely still several years away.
These are positive signs reflecting the effective work being accomplished in the classrooms across the state and nation. Still, much remains to be accomplished and a new initiative of Governor Phil Murphy seeks to include 5,000 individuals to serve as mentors, tutors, wraparound service coordinators, and to provide that additional support for students and educators. NJASA supports this major initiative to assist state educators in further improving student achievement and well-being.
I have always appreciated the acronym for TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More! Let’s put the divisive rhetoric aside and provide the resources and support that our professionals need to truly make a difference in bolstering achievement and closing the gaps among student groups!