Many NJ Students Need ‘Strong Support’ To Recover From Pandemic Learning Loss

Last Fall the New Jersey Department of Education offered  “Start Strong” assessments to all school districts. The DOE described these free tests as a “quick,” “flexible,” and “standards-based” method of gauging student learning loss that could be taken at home or at school. The DOE’s offer was largely ignored: Only 10% of students who would normally take spring assessments took Start Strong, a small sample size of 90,000 out of 1.4 million students

Yet the results shed light on statewide learning loss.  Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan said at Wednesday’s (virtual) State Board of Education meeting, “think of it more as a dipstick, an early indicator for districts.” The results below indicate that a majority of students will need “strong support” in science (which is harder to teach remotely) and between 34%-38% will need strong support in math and reading. Much of this support — which some are urging to start this summer — will be paid for by a federal grant of 1.2 billion,”including $105 million to help students who have struggled with learning and mental health issues as the pandemic has upended traditional classes.”

In other education news, Gov. Murphy said on Tuesday that he is “fully expecting” schools to be open for in-person learning in September,” adding, “I will be very surprised and disappointed if we’re not. … We are fully expecting that we’re back in business in person in September again, safely and responsibly.”

Here are the results of the Start Strong tests:

Language Arts (Grades 4-10)

34% strong support may be needed
21% some support may be needed
45% less support may be needed

Math (Grades 4-10)

38% strong support may be needed
28% some support may be needed
34% less support may be needed

Science (Grades 5, 8, 11)

57% strong support may be needed
28% some support may be needed
15% less support may be needed

Staff Writer

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