We have two disturbing pieces of news about learning loss for NJ students.
First, a new update on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the “nation’s report card” on student learning, and the news is terrible: both reading and math scores continue to plummet due to lingering effects from school closures. Here’s the bottom line: “math skills reset to the level of the 1990s, while struggling readers are scoring lower than they did in 1971.” [Emphasis added.] These are national results, but we know from our own state tests that learning loss was also severe in New Jersey, particularly for low-income kids. There’s no escaping the facts.
So what is our state doing about it? Almost nothing. And our governor is AWOL.
Our friends at NJEdReport wrote an excellent report on the continuing failure of Gov. Murphy’s NJ Partnership for Student Success (NJPSS), his plan to recruit 5,000 volunteer tutors to help remediate the learning loss caused by the school closures he allowed during the pandemic. Since its much-publicized launch in December, 2022, Murphy has been totally silent about the progress of his plan. No we know why: NJPSS is failing badly.
Recall that as governor during the pandemic, Murphy allowed some of New Jersey’s largest school districts — Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Montclair — to remain closed far longer than most other school districts, largely due to Murphy accommodating his biggest political supporters, the teachers unions NJEA and AFT.
Recall also that Murphy sat on state test results for months while the NJEA seemingly questioned whether learning loss even occurred. At the time it was pretty clear that both the NJEA and Murphy preferred to pretend that learning loss never occurred. After a great deal of public outcry, Murphy finally did release the test results, which revealed “staggering learning loss” (in the words of Sen. Teresa Ruiz) for New Jersey students, especially for low-income kids in districts like Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Montclair.
Now we learn that Murphy’s NJPSS is failing miserably. Only 259 tutors have been sent out to tutor students. That’s 4,741 — or 95% — fewer tutors than planned. Meanwhile, an entire class of seniors have graduated with unremediated learning loss and other classes continue to fall farther behind (as shown by the NAEP scores). Copious research shows that this will have negative, lifetime consequences for these kids.
And what have we heard from Murphy, himself? Nothing. Silence. Crickets. It’s once again as if Murphy wants to pretend that learning loss didn’t occur and forget all about it.
Even more egregious, (per NJEdReport) Murphy’s NJDOE sent $3.8 million back to the federal government in unused COVID funds — funds that could have been used pay tutors, the way Tennessee did!
We say again: a governor who fails in his duty to educate New Jersey children is a failure as a governor.
What say you, governor?