N.J. Test Scores Improve in High Schools, Remain Flat in Elementary and Middle Schools

Jeanette Rundquist | The Star-Ledger
09/19/12

JACKSON — New Jersey's 2012 test scores saw a slight uptick in high school, but remained flat in elementary and middle school, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf told a gathering of about 400 school superintendents this morning at a statewide convocation held at a high school in Jackson.

Saying the "achievement gap" remains stubbornly wide between wealthy and poor students, and between students of different races, Cerf also announced plans to target the state's lowest-performing students, and third-graders specifically, for improvement this year.

"If you could get every child reading by third grade, a lot of the issues would disappear," Cerf said at the convocation sponsored by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

The test scores Cerf shared for the first time, at the convocation at Jackson Liberty High School, showed the state's elementary and middle school students scored about 65.9 percent proficient in language arts, and 75.3 percent proficient in math, on the NJ-ASK test. The language arts score was slightly down from 2009, while the math performance was flat.

On the High School Proficiency Assessment, the state's students scored 91.5 percent proficient in language arts and 79.3 percent proficient in math, both scores up from 2009.

Regarding the achievement gap, the difference between wealthy and poor students narrowed slightly at the high school level, according to the data. On the NJ-ASK the gap remained about the same or widened slightly, however, between both poor and more well-off students, and between white students and either African-American or Hispanic students.

Cerf also called for more deregulation of schools, furthering an effort begun at the state Board of Education earlier this month. 

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