I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, September 3, 2011

B4K Says: "NJ's Schools Are Great!"

UPDATE: If you came here from B4K's response to this post, read my counter response here.

B4K's ad attacks the NJEA for accepting the "...status quo; and they want you settle for it."

What is that status quo? Well, over at B4K's "Facts" section, they have a page labeled "Independent Ratings of NJ School System." Let's see...

There are four reports cited:

  • CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS, “Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card of Educational Innovation,” November 2009.
  • NATIONAL COUNCIL ON TEACHER QUALITY2009 State Teacher Policy Yearbook.
  • THOMAS B. FORDHAM INSTITUTE, The State of Standards – and the Common Core – in 2010, July, 2010.
Now, some of you who follow this stuff are already smirking at the idea of any of these groups being "independent." These groups combine to make the pantheon of "reforminess," and that's self-evident when you look at the metrics that are used to judge NJ schools.

Almost every item here does NOT measure student achievement. What they do measure is whether the state is following the policy prescriptions each particular group wants. Take the last two items: grades on how Fordham judges the state standards in English and math. Well, that's nice and all, but it's highly subjective, and it says nothing about how well the kids in New Jersey actually read or solve math problems.

(It's also worth pointing out that on some of these subjective metrics, NJ does well after all. We get an "A" from CAP for "Removing Ineffective Teachers." I find that funny, considering how B4K keeps airing misleading ads about this very "problem.")

But, to B4K's credit, they do highlight an item that actually shows how well our students are doing; it's based on the NAEP tests, the "gold standard" of educational research. This is the "status quo" B4K believes the NJEA "settles" for:

K-12 achievement (2011).  Definition:  Examines student performance both in absolute terms and in change over time, as well as achievement gaps and progress in closing them.
  • Rank among states: 2nd
We have, according the B4K's page, the 2nd highest achieving students in the country.

Will B4K pull its ads if we knock off Massachusetts?

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