BARNEGAT, NJ – Without question, every administrator, teacher, and parent has a different take on standardized tests. Opinions spam the gamut.  On the one hand, some complain that educators spend entirely too much time on “teaching the test” rather than critical skills. And in case you think otherwise, standardized tests frustrate school personnel as well.

The New Jersey Performance Summary Report is basically a year behind as far as measuring how public schools fare locally and in comparison, to other districts.  The 2017-2018 report is on the district’s website and provides an overview of data.

The good news is that the district has shown some growth as far as meeting standards in both English Language Arts and Math skills. The bad news? Students that met or exceeded expectations on statewide assessments in English Language Arts performed at just 52.5%. This falls below the state level of 56.6%.

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By the same token, math performance was also below the state levels in Barnegat. In order to meet statewide assessments, they needed to reach 44.9%. Overall, the Barnegat School District reached just 37.1%.

Barnegat Schools also score below average when it comes to high school graduation.  In 2017-2018, only 88.4% of students walked away with a diploma.

Some Interesting Factors When It Comes to Barnegat Schools

As is the case in many school districts, most look to play the blame game, starting from the top. As far as this report, Superintendent of School Dr. Brian Latwis just took over as head in the middle of the 2017-2018 school year.

Of the 3,130 students in Barnegat Schools that year, 33.6% of students were marked as economically disadvantaged. Unfortunately, studies show in many cases, those with lower socio-economic backgrounds stand double the chance of performing at a lesser rate in school.

However, parents who keep their children home from school for something other than illness, also factor into the equation. During the 2017-2018 school year, 14% of students were absent 10% or more of their expected attendance dates. The New Jersey state average for chronic absenteeism was 10.9%.

The student to teacher ratio in Barnegat is 11 to 1. The average years of teacher experience is 9.4 years. Surely, these don’t represent unimpressive numbers when it comes to preparing kids for the future.

The Educators Speak

At the most recent Board of Education meeting, Jim Barbiere, Director of Curriculum and Instruction provided some further data culled from standardized tests over five subject areas.

“Over the past five years even though the numbers aren’t where we want them to be, which would obviously be at 100%,” he shared. “However, we are seeing upward trends in every subject.”

Remarkably, English as a Second Language students went from 0% to 21% proficiency.  Special education proficiency also doubled over the past five years.

The numbers for gifted students also increased.  “Obviously, those are the goals we have district wide,” shared Barbiere. “We’d like to bring everyone to their levels of proficiency.”

Barbiere took time to credit Superintendent Latwis with some of the improvements. “We’ve seen some new initiatives and programs,” he continued.

The bottom line is that overall numbers are still below state average on a number of accounts. However, improvement comes with experience and time. According to reports, Barnegat schools are moving forward as far as trending information. And, the district pays a great deal of attention to the data in making decisions to further learning experiences.

 

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net