Standardized Assessment Scores: What Do They Really Mean? A Comparative Analysis of New Jersey School Performance by District Factor Group

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Public school students in the State of New Jersey must be assessed at least annually in English/Language Arts in grades 3–11, and in Mathematics in grades 3–8, as well as in Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. These scores assess a student’s mastery of the adopted standards in education for the State of New Jersey. Minimum passing scores for each assessment are set, and student and district success is measured based on the percentage of students who achieve passing scores. Passing rates are then utilized, in part, for the implementation of policy and the allocation of resources by state and federal agencies. School districts in New Jersey are organized by District Factor Groupings, which are classification categories that represent an approximate measure of a community’s relative socioeconomic status (SES). There is abundant literature that suggests students from lower DFG groupings do not achieve at the same level as students from higher DFG groupings, as their SES is a significant variable to be accounted for in their learning. This study compares the outcome of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments in Math and English/Language Arts in New Jersey of DFG groupings from low to high across the 21 counties in New Jersey. The goal of this comparison is to highlight systemic inequalities that exist within the educational structure that may be exacerbated by a focus on high stakes testing.

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  • 01/31/2024
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