The NJEA has re-jiggered its website again, and student performance is now at the top of the page. Perhaps sensing that teachers became dissatisfied with the NJEA’s all-politics-all-the-time focus, the NJEA has increasingly emphasized student success. Two of their datapoints are about the most recent results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the so-called “nation’s report card.”
New Jersey students’ success on the NAEP is real but it must be put into context. Sunlight looked at the 2019 NAEP results of Massachusetts and Florida and compared them to New Jersey.
Table 1. 2019 NAEP Results
|Grade and Subject
|4th Grade Math
|4th Grade Reading
|8th Grade Math
|8th Grade Reading
As can be seen in Table 1, Massachusetts had the top scores in all categories. New Jersey fared very well, but when it comes to 4th graders (bolded), there is very little difference between Florida and New Jersey, with both states beating the national average by a large margin. There is a significant difference in 8th graders, but Florida’s 4th-grade performance bodes well for the future. Moreover, 2019 was pre-COVID school closures, and New Jersey’s schools were kept closed for much longer than Florida’s, so there is a strong likelihood that New Jersey students suffered more learning loss and thus that Florida students will outperform New Jersey’s in future NAEP tests. We will see.
Now let’s look at what each state spent per pupil in 2019. As shown in Table 2, New Jersey spent $20,670, or 10% more than Massachusetts’ $18,733, for lesser NAEP results across the board. And New Jersey spent a whopping 108% more than Florida! That’s more than double — for essentially the same 4th grade results.
As the post-COVID closure results come in over the next few years, we’ll see how New Jersey compares with Massachusetts and Florida. But New Jersey citizens should be aware that they are paying a large premium for strong academic results, and compared to Massachusetts, perhaps too much.