Sunday Leftovers

NJ Spotlight: "While New Jersey’s so-called “achievement gap” between rich and poor and white and minorities has always been wide, the chasm appears even wider based on the first year of the new PARCC testing. The Christie administration yesterday provided the State Board of Education with more results from last spring’s debut of the online testing, with the data this time broken down by race and income. The breakdown based on income levels showed that while 44 percent of the state’s third-grade students met PARCC’s expectations on that grade’s language arts test – hardly an encouraging number -- the rate for low-income students was just 25 percent."

The disparities in the older grades were even more disheartening. Just 22 percent of students categorized as low-income met the mark on the new PARCC sixth-grade math exam, compared to 53 percent of those not considered low-income – a gap of more than 30 percent. 
The numbers broken down by race are equally stark. While 80 percent of Asian students and 61 percent of white students “met expectations” for the seventh-grade language arts test, the numbers for African-American and Hispanic students were 30 and 35 percent, respectively.
Speaking of PARCC, the D.O.E. is adjusting high school graduation requirements. Bari Erlichson said, "In this transition, we are really working hard to not raise expectations for the diploma higher than where they have been."  And here's the Star-Ledger on what the State is calling "an unprecedented look inside the state exams."

N.J. Ed. Comm. David Hespe addressed 100 teachers at the NJEA convention this week in Atlantic City and told them, according to the Star-Ledger, that "the fact that the majority of New Jersey students failed to meet grade-level expectations on new state exams shouldn't be used as ammunition against their teachers or schools,"

The question for the state's educators in the coming months is whether PARCC can effectively measure student progress against academic standards, whether it is sequenced from grade level to grade level and if it can support teaching and learning, he said. So far, I think the answers as to whether or not PARCC has been useful tool has been yes," Hespe said. The remark drew groans from the audience
 Montclair Public Schools last year had one of the highest rates of opt-outs in the state -- 65% -- and the School Board, reports TapInto,  is examining its QSAC filing (the district accountability system) which requires 95% participation in state tests. Currently Montclair is out of compliance.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook reflects on lessons learned in Newark, via EdWeek: "A big part of Zuckerberg's mission was also to improve the traditional public schools. While there have been major changes there, too, indicators such as student test scores have been mixed. Zuckerberg notes in his post that graduation rates have increased 13 percentage points — to 69 percent — and said that with the success of charter schools, parents now have "more high quality public school choices than before."

Flo Johnson, mom of two Newark charter school students, explains,
The bottom line is clear: Newark students are better off today than they were just five years ago. The fact that there are more children today, including my own, who are being served by quality, accessible public schools, isn't scandalous so it doesn't make headlines. But it is real. While I appreciate an open dialogue about how Newark's students and schools are faring, I believe any discussion regarding education should be primarily be about just that—the students.
From the Star-Ledger: "New state rules will require aspiring New Jersey teachers to spend more time in the classroom, including exposure to a special education setting, before they can earn their certification. Student teachers, currently required to complete one semester teaching full-time, will need to complete an additional 175 hours of clinical experience beginning in 2018-19, according to regulations approved Wednesday by the state Board of Education." Also see the Asbury Park Press and the Record.