At long last, and only after a great deal of public outcry, Gov. Murphy’s Department of Education finally released the full dataset from last spring’s state tests. This means that we now know the district-level results and community leaders, school administrators and parents know where and how much remediation is needed — and there is a lot of remediation needed. Why it took until December to do so remains unanswered, but Murphy’s desire to bury the horrible results offers a highly believable explanation. A new study shows that New Jersey and its children will suffer the devastating consequences far into the future.
Recall that Murphy allowed for extended school closures in many of New Jersey’s largest school districts, including Newark, Jersey City and Montclair, just as the teachers unions wanted. Now that the test results are out, we know that New Jersey students — particularly minority students — suffered immense learning losses because of these extended closures. And new research indicates that unless these losses are remediated swiftly and decisively, they will negatively affect these students for the rest of their lives.
A recent study by Stanford economist Eric Hanushek, “The Economic Costs of the Pandemic,” looked the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP – known as “the nation’s report card”) and determined that in 8th-grade math, New Jersey students “had greater learning losses than the nation as a whole.” The chart below shows just how much greater.
Focusing on 8th-grade math scores, Hanushek found that compared to pre-pandemic cohorts,
“New Jersey students in the COVID cohort can expect on average 7.7% lower lifetime earnings.”
If this learning loss is not remediated, this will have severe, long-term economic consequences for the state economy. Overall for New Jersey:
“COVID-19 learning losses will result in a total economic loss of 2.6% of GDP over the twenty-first century, a loss, in present value terms, of $486 billion.”
$486 billion is a staggering number and gives a sense of the devastating consequences of Murphy’s policies for both the state and, most distressingly, in the lives of these kids. As shown below, the negative economic consequences for New Jersey are the 5th-worst in the nation:
Hanushek’s final point reveals the potential lasting damage done by Murphy’s delayed release of the full results from the spring state tests:
“History indicates that the economic losses will be permanent unless the schools get better. Just returning to their pre-pandemic performance levels will not erase the lost learning. Recovering from the pandemic requires swift and decisive improvements to the schools.” [Emphasis added.]
Swift and decisive — as opposed to Murphy’s slow and irresolute course of action. Think about it, Murphy sat on the data to protect himself and his teachers union political supporters, heedless of the consequences for New Jersey’s children.
Sunlight asks: Isn’t a governor who fails in his fundamental duty to educate our children a failure as a governor?