BARNEGAT, NJ - News came out last month of the Barnegat Township School District’s recognition as a high performing district. Academic achievement reflects only a small part of the designation.

School administrators shared the categories that earned the district perfect scores in the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) review. Barnegat Schools only passed the evaluation in one other time in fifteen years.

The process included a review of past standardized test results. The waiver of state tests last year did not contribute to the district’s decision to harvest data. Reconfiguration made it all the easier.

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Amidst pandemic related school closings, many are concerned about COVID-19 learning loss. Parents already up in arms against reconfiguration renewed their objections.

Teachers reassigned as data coaches access the information and use it to address student shortcomings and strengths. School administrators view the changes as a means of analysis and action plans.

“The data harvest is broken into two major components,” explained Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis. “The first component is the scores, and where we are as far as benchmarks and proficiency numbers.”

“My opinion is that’s even more important to see what you do with the data,” Latwis continued. “It’s one thing to look at it and move on. It’s quite another thing to look at the data and find the actionable things that can be done.”

Principals from each of the district’s six schools shared a succinct summary of the overall data harvest results. Administrators rely on such tools as LinkIt to identify trends in their schools.

This is the first of a three-part series on academic related progress in Barnegat Schools. The youngest students appear to be on track to meeting or exceeding expectations.

DUNFEE SCHOOL

Jennifer Froehlich, Principal of the Dunfee School, provided information regarding the youngest members of the Barnegat School District.  Only children of preschool age now attend Dunfee.

Literacy expectations for four-year preschooler falls into three basic categories. Students are expected to recognize and write their names, identify uppercase letters, and recognize rhyming words.  The one-time analysis on the rhyming words showed that students identified rhyming words 73 percent of the time.

“Ninety percent of our students are able to recognize and write their names, “shared Froehlich. “...The (proficiency) grew by fifteen percent as far as identifying uppercase letters.”

Preschool students experienced a 14 percent growth in identifying numbers from 0-10 from one trimester to the next. Shape recognition increased by 11 percent to somewhere in the low 90th percentile.

Froehlich offered several actionable steps the school will use to increase proficiencies. One consideration includes a Summer Transitional Academic Camp.

COLLINS SCHOOL

Collins School Principal Josh Toddings presented the results of the data harvest for Kindergarten – Second Grade.  He recapped some of the actionable items developed from the last cycle and referenced “dramatic increases” in the school.

“One of the major things we are looking to do is increase our reading and comprehension skills,” Collin stressed as he described tools used to achieve the goal. “We are trying to establish the skill sets they need now and throughout their schooling career.”

Fifty percent of kindergarten students met or exceeded ELA expectations during the first marking period of the year. The percentage went up twenty points when assessed in the second marking period – a total of seventy percent.

The overall ELA assessment for first-graders meeting or exceeding expectations totaled 57 percent. By the second marking period, the number increased to 71 percent.

Of the first-grade classes, 31 students qualified to take a STAR reading assessment during the second marking period. All of them passed and met the benchmark. This increased the growth to a total of 75 percent in the first grade.

Second-graders who met or exceeded expectations in the first marking period amounted to 51 percent of students. During the second marking period, 99 students qualified for the STAR reading assessment. The overall growth for second-graders moved to 65 percent proficiency.

“As far as math from one marking period to the next, the test increases in skill,” explained Toddings. “It becomes harder in skill.”

One example would be the ability of a kindergarten student to count to 25 during the first marking period.  During the second marking period, students are expected to count to 50.

“The increase in difficulty is why you do not necessarily see the same amount of growth.,” Toddings continued. “We started at 86 percent and maintained about 83 percent of correct answers with the increase in skill sets.”

First grade students scored 96 percent during the first marking period and were at 92 percent during the second marking period. Again, the questions became more difficult.

Grade two students performed similarly, started at 91 percent in the first marking period and moving to 89 percent as more skills were added.

Both the Dunfee and Collins principals expressed gratitude for the people and tools contributing to data harvests.  Look for our next article on progress within the Donahue and Horbelt Schools.

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