BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The semi-annual NJ School Performance Report and Student Achievement presentation on Governor Livingston High School was not quite as upbeat as the presentation on Columbia Middle School. The report did show “great progress and improvement in five of the categories” and four of the categories remain in the top third of other top-rated high schools, said Acting Superintendent of Schools Scott McKinney.
The areas of “Math and ELA are our greatest area of concern,” McKinney said, but he added that based on all the information and analysis, the district believes these scores are “outliers,” as the big picture and growth indicate the students excel in the other tests that measure their expertise and knowledge growth.
The graduation rate continues to be high as does enrollment in two- and four-year colleges. Eleventh and twelfth grade students know what the graduation requirements are but tenth graders and beyond don’t know yet, as they state has not yet set the standards. The state assessment program will not be the only assessment by which they can meet the graduation requirements, McKinney said. About 90 percent of the eleventh graders had met the graduation standards before taking the test which replaced the PARCC test this year and only a few seniors still have some work to do to graduate, he said.
District Supervisor Drew Ziobro said the work done at the middle school will start to result in students that are better prepared with stronger foundations. The math program is being expanded across grade levels, including in Mountainside, which should allow the students to develop a deeper understanding of the subject and of modeling. Eleventh grade students don’t have to take the Math or ELA test next year, but they will have to take a science assessment.
District Supervisor Laurie Scott said “PARCC is an anomaly for us and we are working on ways to improve those scores” in both Berkeley Heights and Mountainside. “We’re hoping all the gains seen in the Middle School will now work their way into the high school.”
Principal Robert Nixon said the participation rate for students on the various college entrance exams continues to rank at the top of that dashboard. While there is a slight decrease in participation rate, it’s consistent in all the dashboard schools and can be attributed to changes in the SAT, he said.
The district’s composite average SAT score was over 1200 for the first time in recent years. ACT scores improved and are at a six-year high.
The AP program continues to grow – more students took and passed the AP test at a higher rate, Nixon said.
The NJ School Performance Report and Student Achievement data dashboards provide a way for the board to mark the progress of students at the various schools in the district. In the fall, “we benchmark achievement and growth against ourselves,” in the spring the district benchmarks its growth against the “dashboard” schools, which are comprised of the top high schools throughout New Jersey, McKinney said. “In these categories we look at, we look at the ranking against the other schools,” as well as whether the school is meeting its goals.
There is a lot of information in each of the slides in the presentation which can be seen in the photos above and on the district website here. The Governor Livingston dashboards follow the Columbia Middle School dashboards.