Last Year's Ridge Juniors, Mount Prospect Students Gain Top Scores in Standardized Tests

Brian Heineman, the Bernards Schools district's director of curriculum, along with Supervisor of Science & Technology Matt Hall, on Oct. 6 gave a presentation on standardized test scores from the 2013-14 school year. Credits: Linda Sadlouskos

BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - One hundred percent of last year's Ridge High School juniors in general education passed the state standardized test needed to graduate on their first shot, school officials told the Board of Education and public this week. More than 93 percent of special education students at Ridge also passed the test on their first try, according to school officials.

Eventually, since last juniors had been allowed retests, all of the students passed the requirement for graduation, school officials said.

The HSPA (High School Statewide Assessment) tests, which for years has been administered to high school juniors, will be replaced this year by the new PARCC tests. While passing the HSPA tests was a requirement, no one test under the new PARCC assessments will be needed for graduation, Matt Hall, the district's supervisor of science and technology, said during a presentation on last year's standardized test results.

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The NJASK (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge) tests previously given to students in grade levels 3 through 8 throughout the state, also will be replaced with the PARCC assessments. Board member Beverly Cwerner asked District of Curriculum Brian Heineman if there will be a way to compare last year's figures, the latest to be reported, against the new testing program.

"The answer, as of today, is we think no," Heineman said. But he added he wouldn't be surprised if the state does come up with a way to compare the older and newer testing programs at some point.

As in previous years, Mount Prospect Elementary School students continued to outscore the district's other three elementary schools in the 2013-14 school year.

For example, with a minimum score of 200 to be categorized as "proficient" on the NJASK, and 250 or higher as "advanced proficient," average language arts scores for all third-grade students, including special education tests, at the four elementary schools were 216.6 at Cedar Hill; 221.5 at Liberty Corner; 230.3 at Mount Prospect; and 220.5 at the Oak Street School.

Average math scores for all third graders in the Bernards elementary schools were 258.3 at Cedar Hill; 257.5 at Liberty Corner; 270.3 at Mount Prospect; and 251.3 at Oak Street.

Both Hall and Heineman said that students in all the elementary schools, as well as students at the William Annin Middle School and Ridge High School, registered high scores last year, often outperforming other schools at a similar socioeconomic level.

However, Board Member Michael Byrne said he continues to be troubled by the inequality of scores at the elementary school level.

Looking ahead to other tests to be discussed at future meetings, such as SAT and Advanced Placement testing for Ridge students, Byrne said the scores has overall remained the same year after year.

Byrne said the Bernards Schools system is a "fine" school district. "But I would like to see us get better," he added.

The standardized state test scores from 2013-14 are online at the Bernards Township school website.

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