Monday, April 19, 2010

NJ's Diploma Scam, Part II

To recap: the Education Law Center is irate because this past January the vast majority of the 10,000 high school seniors who couldn't pass the HSPA after three tries also failed the new and carefully supervised Alternative High School Assessment (AHSA).The previous alternative test, the Special Review Assessment, was impossible to fail. Therefore ELC has asked Commissioner Bret Schundler to “set aside” the test results so that the students can get high school diplomas.

While there’s no official response yet from Comm. Schundler, there is unofficial news from the NJ DOE. Michael Parent, the Principal of Dumont High School in Bergen County, heard a rumor that the NJ DOE was planning on having Gov. Christie sign an Executive Order stating that all high schools in NJ must allow every student to march in graduation regardless of whether he or she passes the AHSA. So Mr. Parent wrote a letter to Deputy Commissioner Willa Spicer regarding this rumored Executive Order, which he believes “trump[s] the graduation policies of districts” and serves as an abrogation of the DOE’s stance on increased academic rigor. Here’s Dr. Spicer’s reply:
We do not know if we need an executive order but we want students who have passed all their courses, come to the remedial program regularly, come to school regularly and attended to the work of his or her classes to march in graduation. They will not receive a diploma but will be able to attend a summer program and take another test at the end of the summer. We hope that the state will be able to provide software that has proved effective in other states and we hope that those students who are willing to work with the system will be able to read, write and do math well enough to earn a NJ diploma by August. I know that you, too, hope for the best for the students. We would be happy for your help in achieving the purpose.
Okay. Fair enough. We all want our high school graduates to read, write, and do math. We all want the best for our students. Yet of the 10,000 students tested in January only 1,000, or 10%, passed the language arts section. From the Education Law Center’s press release: “In 120 school district not a single student passed the language arts portion, and in 40 district not a single student passed the math portion.” How is it possible that after a “summer program” and “software that has proven effective in other states” that every one of these students, who have walked across the graduation stage celebrating the successful completion of their high school careers, will pass the AHSA?

Does the NJ DOE plan to toss a test that accurately assesses student academic achievement (or lack thereof) and reinstate the much-abused Special Review Assessment? Just how meaningless is a New Jersey high school diploma? To what degree are we willing to perpetuate the pretense that NJ adequately educates the children in our poor, segregated school districts? We await further word from the DOE.


keayla said...

what happened to the law "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" ; im one of the people who has been trying my hardest to pass this test ; i took it 3 times ; my junior year [march] ; my senior year [october] and the SRA [jan] i have my scores back and everytime i fail by a couple of points ; the SRA process i failed the english by half a point ; this is ridiclous ; i have to prove to the state that im capable to graduate ; if i dont graduate its like 12 years down the drain ; the state is jus being hard headed ; i refuse to take summer clases jus because of a test ; i mean if you can pass all your clases in school ; then what else do you have to prove to graduate ; i think the state should jus come a little easy because graduation plays a BIG part in a teenagers life ; i want to move on with my life and not be stuck still in high school over a test ; i think its soo dumb ; why did you guys change it from the teachers grading the test [sra] to the state grades it?? ; ive been told because they feel too many people was getting there diploma and wasnt suppose too ; thats totally unfair and not riqht ; to set aside this ; i feel that if you guys say EVERYONE HAS TO PASS THIS TEST IN ORDER TO GRADUATE ; why doesnt the people who has remdial classes [resources] ; have to retake it ; if they fail ; i have a couple of friends who are in remdial classes and failed it their junior year and they dont have to retake it. ; i dont think thats fair at all ; you guys should think about this and really come to a conclusion about this ; because i no if this was to happen to your child ; it wouldnt be a great feeling ; you have people who try they hardest and you guys stil dont give it to them ; i have one more try this week and next week ! ; any questions my name is keayla tucker- 908 659 8785 ; I GO TO UNION HIGH SCHOOL

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