The results of New Jersey's Alternate High School Assessment tests should raise major concerns about the education our children are receiving. First is the fact that 10,300 students failed three times to pass the test. This means that thousands of students will not be able to graduate later this month. Some are calling on the state to throw out the results of the AHSA, claiming there was a problem with the test and with the way it was scored. These are nothing but excuses, and an attempt to cover up a problem with instruction in our schools.

It is interesting that no one saw problems with the tests until after a majority of students failed them. Even more interesting is that when the tests were graded by teachers, almost 100 percent of students passed; but the first time the tests were graded by an outside firm, almost 90 percent failed. These facts raise serious questions, and we call upon the Christie administration to consider a probe.

Students who failed the test should not get diplomas. What is the benefit of having a diploma without having received an education? These students should study, retake the tests this summer, and, it is hoped, pass and earn their diplomas. Students who failed the tests but scored at least 400 on the SAT and 6 on the ACT and passed assessments required for military service should be allowed to graduate.

The Black Ministers Council wants to make clear that we believe all children can learn, and that the failure is not with the students but with the quality of instruction. It is imperative that the state address this problem, so that we do not again have thousands of students unable to share in what should be one of the high points in their lives.

The Rev. Reginald T. Jackson

Black Ministers Council of New Jersey