CAMDEN, NJ — City students at both district and renaissance schools have made gains in language arts and math in state testing for the fourth year in a row, officials from the Camden City School District announced.
The schools across Camden also showed greater participation in the New Jersey Standardized Learning Assessment, based on the district's results from the past school year released during an event Wednesday.
The results showed combined bumps for district and renaissance schools of 7% to 21% proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) since the 2014-15 school year, and of 4.3% to 15% proficient in math during the same period. The state average for proficiency is 58% in ELA and 45% in math.
Camden Schools Superintendent Katrina McCombs called the results "a clear indication that the dedication of our teachers, staff, and families is making a difference."
“We know that there is still work to be done, but the continued incremental growth we are seeing from our students means that they are better prepared to succeed in and out of school than ever before. This is positive news as we look to close the gap between our students and the statewide average.”
Over the past five years, district schools rose from 6.2% to 14.9% in ELA and 4.3% to 9.4% in math, though proficiency in the latter category was down from 9.6% a year ago. City renaissance schools — neighborhood schools that are operated independently like charters yet funded primarily by the district and must serve students in that local catchment zone — jumped from 14.3% to 28.5% in ELA and 6.3% to 22.6% in math.
All five of the district high schools saw an increase in ELA proficiency from the 2018-19 school year, posting an average gain of about 38% and an overall increase from 27.3% to 32.1%. In math, high school students' proficiency rose from 11.9% to 14.8% over the year prior.
Among improvements in literacy for eight district elementary and family schools from 2018-19, Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy had the greatest increase at 27.5% to 52.6%, with Henry H. Davis Elementary also showing a jump from 20.5% to 30.3%. The average increase across the total schools was 37%.
The district noted numerous gains in math for its family schools, including an increase from 15.7% to 20% at Octavius V. Catto Community Family School from 2018-19 (up from 8.4% in 2014-15). While three district schools — Wiggins Preparatory School, Thomas H. Dudley Family School, and Yorkship Elementary School — made positive strides, two others in the city's top 10 for the subject area saw decreases: Creative Arts and Alfred Cramer College Preparatory Lab School.
Renaissance schools, which include KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and Mastery, clocked in as six of the top 10 schools overall in ELA proficiency for grades 3 through 8 over the past year. Of these six, Mastery Schools Cramer Hill Elementary saw the sharpest increase with an 8.9% change, from 13.1% to 22%.
While still posting the third-highest ELA proficiency, KIPP Lanning Square Primary was the only of the six renaissance schools to drop in literacy: 36.9% to 31.8%. It also saw a decrease in math over the past year, from 28.1% to 21%.
Overall for math proficiency, renaissance schools were seven of the top 10 across the city for grades 3 through 8. Uncommon Camden Prep had the highest percentage among both school types at 45.5%, though this was down from 51.8% from the 2017-18 year.
Four Mastery schools showed gains, including a 15.1% change (6.4% to 21.5% proficiency) for Mastery Cramer Hill and a 9.4% change (20.5% to 29.9%) for Mastery McGraw Elementary.
In addition to the improved test scores, district schools increased the student participation rates in state testing from the previous year.
High school participation in ELA (85.9%) and math (87.8%) exams increased by 5.9% and 9.8%, respectively. Participation in grade 3 through 8 was already above 97% in 2017-2018.
“The higher our participation rates, the better we can understand the students in our district. This year, we can say without question that our students are making significant strides in multiple subjects,” McCombs said. “As we continue to look at the school-specific data and talk with our teachers, our focus will be on identifying and remedying those areas where we still have the most room for growth.”