The newly elected New Jersey Governor has a new initiative to eliminate the importance of standardized testing which will have a devastating impact on the achievement gap for minorities. The achievement gap for minorities has had minimal progression over the past four decades. The new trend to water down standardized testing with have a negative impact on the future employability of minorities.
First, the achievement gap for minorities will increase. Essentially, Governor Phil Murphy proposes to reduce the quantity of questions and the testing time for most grade levels. Reducing the quantity of questions is problematic because it reduces the probability that minorities will close the achievement gap. For example, if a standardized testing apparatus has ten questions and the passing rate is 60%, then the student can miss four questions and pass the standardized test. However, if the standardized testing apparatus has five questions, then the student can only miss two questions to pass the standardized test.
Another challenge with the new standardized testing is the limited requirement of math for grades 7 to 12. After the seventh grade, students will not take a math assessment unless they have taken Algebra 1. This will devalue the importance of completing higher order mathematical courses such as Geometry and Algebra 2.
Many minorities will have limited employment opportunities with the new standardized assessment changes. These changes will limit the importance for the necessity of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is a key skill desired by many employers. It is the ability to use intensive thought processes to thoroughly analyze questions or situations. Critical thinkers go beyond initial perceptions and take into account the perspective of others as well as their own. While a wide array of jobs can be better performed by a critical thinker, this ability is necessary in some positions.
Some of the jobs that require critical thinking include:
- Music composer or arranger
- Interior designer
- Set and exhibit designer
- Makeup artist, theatrical and performance
- Copy writer
- Poet, lyricist, or creative writer
- Instructional designer or technologist
- Landscape architect
- Multimedia artists and animator
- Program director
- Talent director
- Video game designer
- Art director
Instead of watering down standardized testing that will continue to contribute to widening the achievement gap for minorities, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy should implement a critical thinking agenda that will help to close the achievement gap. This initiative should begin with all grades, especially the grades prior to third grade.
In grades prior to third grade, teachers need additional training or the support of a mathematics coach. Many teachers in the primary grades have a weakness in teaching mathematical skills which ultimately impacts the student achievement gap. Closing the student achievement gap requires supporting minority students progress towards the development and mastery of critical thinking rather than watering down standardized testing.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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