TRENTON – Overall, New Jersey students performed above the national average on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exam, but the long-standing achievement gap remains between low- and high-income students, the state Education Department said Thursday.
“As these results today demonstrate, New Jersey students continue to do well by nearly every objective measure compared to the rest of the country, but we still have more work to do to ensure that every student in New Jersey has the knowledge and skills necessary to be ready for the demands of the 21st century,” Acting Commissioner Christopher Cerf said in a statement. “New Jersey is a lead partner in developing the Next Generation Science Standards along with 25 other states to ensure that we set high standards and help all of our schools implement those standards in the crucial area of science.”
Based on these results, Cerf said Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is reaffirming the need for new science standards for the state, which are already being developed.
Last week at a press conference at West Windsor Plainsboro High School. Christie and Cerf unveiled a new plan to be implemented over the next five years to have year-end subject tests. The test would do away with the High School Proficiency Assessment, which Cerf said only tests at an 8th grade level, even though students take the test in the 11th grade. Both are confident the tests could be put in place without legislative approval.
The average score for eighth grade students in 2011 in New Jersey was 155, compared to the national average of 151. However, the exam results showed a 29-point achievement gap between high- and low-income students, making New Jersey the 9th-ranked state in terms of score gaps.