SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ — Since the pandemic took a toll on student learning across the state, educators will require extra measures to help students recover from learning loss.
Despite having its critics, data from the state-run Start Strong testing and the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments could provide educators with an insight into what needs to be done.
The South Brunswick School District recently provided the community with NJSLA scores for 2022. Start Strong results are expected ahead of winter break.
“We as a district and as a group of educators, really analyze these scores, and try to see what we can learn about where we can improve our own programming for our kids and our instructional practice,” Superintendent Scott Feder said during last week’s Board of Education meeting.
The state Department of Education informed school districts in July that they would be required to administer the Start Strong testing. Designed to assess gaps in learning after the pandemic disruptions, the test was optional in the fall of 2020, but the state made it a requirement in 2021 and again in 2022.
On Aug. 9, The New Jersey Education Association wrote an open letter to the state Board of Education, expressing concern over the “relevance and utility” of the test.
“We are concerned that this test, while shorter than the NJSLA, will be retesting skills that were assessed by the NJSLA only four months ago. The results from the May NJSLA have not been received yet, making the Start Strong results of limited relevance to educators and parents,” the letter said.
Critics also argued that the test adds to the teachers’ burden.
However, many school districts like South Brunswick, have decided to make the best use of the data.
“Whether we agree with the testing or not, we’re still gonna use the data to the best of our ability to make decisions about instructional programming for kids, both individually, and more aggregate of what we do with the programs in total,” Feder said.
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