This past spring Newark school district students took NWEA’s diagnostic MAP tests,* which measure achievement and growth in math, reading, and other subjects. The results were grim: Only 9% of students in grades 2-8 met state expectations in math and only 11% met expectations in reading.
The only reason we know this is because Chalkbeat filed an open records request after being denied the information by district officials.
The last year New Jersey students’ proficiency was measured through statewide tests was 2019. In that year 35% of third-grade students and 44% of eighth-graders met expectations in math. This year fifth-graders went from the 15th percentile in 2019 to the 4th percentile in math, which puts them “near the very bottom of the pack nationally.” In reading they dropped from the 11th percentile to the 2nd percentile. One mother, whose children attend Avon Street School, said, “As far as education goes I think they lost a year.”
— Gale Morrison (@GaleMorrisonEd) August 5, 2021
Yet district officials are not sharing this troubling data with the community. From Chalkbeat:
While documents show that district officials are well aware of students’ severe learning loss, they have not publicly shared or discussed the data. A district spokesperson did not answer questions about the district’s plans to tackle learning loss. The school board president did not respond to an email seeking her reaction to the test scores.
Last month Newark Superintendent Roger León said at a school board meeting, “part of the strategy here is not to assume that there will be loss,” even though a buried district analysis found close to 80% of third graders and 90% of fourth graders were not on track to meet grade-level expectations, outcomes far worse than non-pandemic years. (He also reported to the New Jersey Department of Education that “99.8% of Newark students were present for each day of remote learning” yet more than 1 in 5 students were chronically absent; a teacher confided he was told to mark students present even when they were absent.)
Let’s assume there is “loss.” In fact, we know it for sure. Meanwhile, Newark district officials–including Superintendent León and school board members–really ought to come clean with the public.
*This study shows how NWEA MAP tests are predictive of how students would perform on NJ’s standardized tests.