BARNEGAT, NJ – Barnegat Schools began evaluating educational data before chaos hit and the pandemic shut down schools.  With the waiver of standardized tests last year, the district established benchmarks on its own.

School administrators from each of the district’s six schools presented student learning data at a recent Barnegat Board of Education meeting.  The process and information about the Dunfee School and Collins School are detailed in Part One of our Series.

Academic data regarding the Donahue and Horbelt Schools are reviewed in Part Two of our Series. This third and final part of our series sums up the results of the Brackman Middle School and Barnegat High School.

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BRACKMAN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Russell O. Brackman Middle School Principal Shannon Smith described some of the action items put in place after the first marking period. One of the issues concerned development of a plan to reach non-responsive/failing students.

During periods of full virtual learning, school leaders noticed a drop in students not attending classes. Smith and her team proactively contacted the parents and collaborated with them to ensure their children participated.

Brackman students are engaged with word and math challenges weekly and learn a new technology tip on every Tuesday.

“Everyone was virtual when they took Form A of the test,” Smith pointed out. “Form B was taken by 46 virtual and the rest in person.”

The average for Grade 7 ELA was 54.9 percent meeting or exceeding expectations for the first part of the test. The second time students were tested dropped slightly to 54.1 percent.

Seventh graders appeared to struggle the most with informational text. Some of the areas tested were just introduced to students at the time the tests were administered.

“What did go up is comprehending literary non-fiction,” said Smith.

Math scores did improve from the original benchmark of 47.5 percent to 51.6 percent for seventh grade students. Again, some of the materials were not taught to the students and scores may go up by the next time students are tested.

“We really need to work on real world math problems,” Smith explained. “That’s a low standard for us.”

Brackman has implemented new electives and prescribed elective courses that may help students increase their math proficiencies.

The proficiencies for eighth graders in ELA went from 55 percent down to 52.6 percent, with a lesser percentage of students exceeding expectations.

Eighth grade students showed a lot of growth as far as vocabulary from the first test to the second.  Students appeared to struggle with information texts and determining author’s point of view.  

Math proficiency scores went up significantly from the original benchmark of 37.5 percent to 46.6 percent. Students showed improvement in several of the areas tested.

“The most growth was in translations, rotations, reflections on two-dimensional figures using coordinates,” shared Smith.

Smith attributed the higher scoring in that particular area with how one of the teachers taught the concept. A bit of creativity using the “electric slide” as an example seemed to help students recall the lesson. A meaningful or “silly” means of teaching appears to be valuable.

Algebra I students showed growth, moving from 55 percent to 62 percent. Only nine students took the exam virtually. Only three students took the exam virtually and went from 42 percent proficiency to 72.5 percent.

“Teachers are receiving their data and Master Teachers will assist in addressing those struggling standards,” Smith said. “…We are going over the data and talking about areas of strength and where everyone is struggling…. We are looking at how we can collaborate and help one another.”

BARNEGAT HIGH SCHOOL

Patrick Magee, Principal of Barnegat High School presented a snapshot presentation for grades 9-11, noting it was an incomplete picture as AP students were not reflected in the scores.  He cited a major issue in the high school is the lack of engagement from students during remote learning.

Barnegat High School started the school year with approximately 24-25 percent students attending school virtually. That number rose to 52 percent and is now at 45 percent of high school students opting for remote learning.

Magee pointed out that although each of the grades has 220-250 students, data results only show information for about half of the number of students.

“That has to do with how things are this year,” said Magee. “That’s doesn’t mean that this data isn’t very impactful for us, because it does provide us some great tendencies and trends where we can identify areas of weakness and still attack the curriculum and the teaching that we are doing to make sure that it is meaningful.”

For the first part of the English I exam, 174 students took the test and 45.2 percent met or exceeded expectations. The number of students who took the second test dropped to 155, with 46.4 proficiency. The same students did not necessarily take the test both times.

The bell curves for English II remained about the same, although there was a drop in average scores from 44.4 percent to 40.5 percent.  This was the only English class to experience a decline.

“Our students are learning, and they are making improvements, but they are not keeping up with the standards of how the state wants them to keep up,” Magee said. “...We are looking at common assessments, looking at weekly common assessments, to see if we can standardize the scope and sequence with that course in alignment with what is expected for the students to be learned.”

English III students showed a slight improvement moving from 39.9 percent to 40.1 percent on the average. More students exceeded expectations during the first test.

Barnegat High School Algebra I students showed some growth, from 32.6 percent to 34.1 percent. A substantially lower number of students took the second test. The Algebra II tests revealed a greater percentage of growth from 27.7 percent proficiency to 33 percent.

Magee also reviewed testing associated with college and career readiness. The scores for PSATs and SATs matter when it comes to future careers.

“Barnegat High School has continued to decline in our PSAT scores,” shared Magee. “Not by much – a very small margin of percentage.”

“That decline matches and mirrors both the county and state decline,” Magee continued.  “We are not an anomaly and are still above their averages.”

SATs were given at Barnegat High School this year, rather than to try to secure a seat for the test outside the district.  The number of students who took the test amounted to 65 percent participation.

“Math and ELA SAT score are both above the state and county averages,” said Magee.

The high school has been without a data coach and will have one assigned at least through the end of this school year. The hope is that analyzing the data will provide direction for improvements.

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