It’s going to completely skew results and play into the narrative of learning loss, when it’s really just learning that hasn’t happened yet.
That’s Chrissi Miles, the Director of Professional Development for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). She is objecting to the NJ Department of Education’s “Start Strong” online assessments that measure student proficiency in reading and math, which were administered over the past few weeks in lieu of the usual springtime standardized tests.
The Smart Strong tests are 45 minutes long. They are no-stakes for teachers, students, schools, and districts, merely a tool for measuring student proficiency so all stakeholders can address what children need. As Patricia Morgan of JerseyCAN says, “If we don’t go through a methodical process, we won’t know what has happened to these children.”
But according to NJEA lobbyists, nothing happened to the children! Pay no attention to data that shows the average New Jersey student lost 30% of expected learning in reading and 36% in math, with losses greater for Black, Latin, and low-income students. There’s no learning loss! It’s just learning that hasn’t happened yet!
Thanks so much, NJEA. Let’s see how this reasoning works in other contexts:
I’m not starving. I’m just experiencing eating that hasn’t happened yet.
I’m not sick. I’m just waiting on wellness that hasn’t happened yet.
I’m not broke. I just haven’t earned any money yet.
I’m not homeless. I’m just living in a house I haven’t acquired yet.
I’m sure we all appreciate NJEA lobbyists’ rose-colored view of the world. But can we resist resorting to logical fallacies in order to perpetuate the pretense that (as it says on the homepage of NJEA’s new website), NJ schools are the “best in the nation” and all our kids are fine? (Word to the wise: they’re not.) Can we acknowledge that our children need specialized instruction that keeps them moving forward while filling in gaps? Can we agree that, while some kids might have been able to maintain grade-level proficiency during COVID-19, many did not and we need to identify who needs what after a global pandemic that shuttered schools for the better part of 18 months?
I’m not mad. I’m just waiting for composure that hasn’t happened yet.