State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf says teachers are ‘owed a debt of gratitude’ for the achievement
New Jersey schools continue to improve their overall national ranking on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas.
Between 2009 and 2011, New Jersey maintained its ranking as the 2nd highest performing state in the country in grade 4 and 8 reading, and improved from 5th to 4th in grade 4 math, and from 5th to 3rd in grade 8 math, the state Department of education announced Tuesday.
Though nearly all grades have improved since 2003, the gap between low- and high-income students remains one of the largest in the country. In grade 8 reading, New Jersey ranks 50 out of 51 states and the District of Columbia in the size of its achievement gap.
The Christie administration is taking credit for the improvements. The students are taught by teachers on whom the governor wants to place tougher professional standards and who are members of the New Jersey Education Association, the union he wants to bring to its knees.
“Under Governor Christie, New Jersey schools have continued to improve and on average remain among the top schools in the country by objective measures,” Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said. “We have some of the hardest working and best teachers in the country, and we owe them all a debt of gratitude for this significant achievement.
“In spite of our strong overall scores, we must find the right balance between celebrating our successes and a sense urgency to improve a system where in too many places, the zip code in which you’re born determines your educational outcomes,” Cerf said. “We must continue our work at the state level to ensure that we free high-performing schools and districts from bureaucratic red tape so that they can continue to succeed, while at the same time strengthen interventions for our lowest-performing students. In order to do this, we must continue to invest in the four building blocks of success – academics, performance and accountability, talent, and innovation."
In both grades and subjects, the average scale scores for New Jersey students continued to increase between 2009 and 2011, though the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) does not consider these results "statistically significant," in part because of the relatively small sample size at the state level.