Education

State Test Results Bring Good News and Bad News for Livingston Public Schools; Special Education Scores Bring Some Cause for Concern

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LIVINGSTON, NJ – Students in the Livingston public schools continue to perform much better, as a whole, in state tests than those in their District Factor Group, but special education students lag somewhat behind, according to a report presented by school officials at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

New Jersey students in the third through eighth grades take the ASK test in the third through eighth grades and the HSPT or High School Proficiency Test in the 11th grade. Measurements all are taken as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Law, and the state requires passage of the HSPT in order for a student to graduate high school, according to Superintendent of Schools Brad Draeger.

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Draeger pointed out that two years ago students in three Livingston schools did not meet the Average Yearly Progress goals set by No Child Left Behind, last year all schools met the goals, but this year three schools again failed to meet the goals.

The national objective is for all schools in the United States to make AYP goals by the end of the 2014 school year.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Mary Oates on Monday presented figures on students attaining various levels of proficiency in language arts and mathematics in most grades. Eighth graders also are measured in science proficiency.

One area where Livingston students did exceptionally well was third grade language arts, where advanced proficiency was achieved by 15.8% of Livingston students versus 12.8% for the District Factor Group, which includes communities concerned similar socio-economically to the township. Draeger said the factor group that includes Livingston is considered the highest achieving group in the state.

A total of 17.9% of Livingston third graders in the general education category achieved advanced proficiency in language arts versus 14.6% of factor group, and the figures for special education students were 7.9% for Livingston versus 4.5% for the factor group.

The total student and general education student figures were similarly impressive in the third grade mathematics test, with the district at 54.8% at advance proficiency for total students versus 54.2% for the factor group and general education students at 61.7% in the township versus 58.7% for the factor group.

However, Livingston third grade special education students were at only 29.2% versus 34.3% for the factor group.

Also, the figures for Livingston third graders in the general education subgroup only achieving partial proficiency in mathematics were at 8.0%, with only 6.0% in the factor group at the partially proficient level. Livingston special education students in the third grade also had more students at the partially proficient level, with 29.2% versus only 22.6% in the District Factor Group.

The total student population of Livingston fifth graders also did well in mathematics, with 62.2% in the advanced proficiency category versus 56.8% in the factor group. General education students in the township also excelled in math, with 71.4% at advanced proficiency versus 63.0% in the factor group.

However, only 23.5% of township special education students in the fifth grade attained advance proficiency in mathematics versus 25.9% in the factor group.

Livingston sixth grade special education students saw 60.5% of their number in the partially proficient category in language arts versus only 55.3% in the factor group.

Also sixth graders in the township as a whole fell behind the factor group in language arts advanced proficiency 13.4% to 12.0%, with general education students behind 15.4% to 14.3% and special education students behind 1.6% to 1.3%.

In mathematics, 43.45% of Livingston special education students achieved only partial proficiency, while only 39.6% of factor group special education students were at the low level.

Livingston students at the advanced proficiency level in sixth grade mathematics, however, led among total students, 53.1% to 41.9%, general education students, 61.6% to 47.2%, and special education students, 13.2% to 11.8%.

In eighth grade science, only special education students lagged behind their factor group counterparts in the advanced proficiency category—17.4% to 16.7%.

While the total township student population of 11th graders taking the language arts HSPT led in advanced proficiency 43.1% to 37.1%, and Livingston general education students led 50.0% to 42.3%, township special education students were behind in the category with 5.2% versus 7.5%.

In mathematics, however, there were far less Livingston students in all categories at the partially proficient level versus the factor group. While the total number of Livingston students and township general education students achieving advanced proficiency in the mathematics HSPT far exceeded those in the district factor group, township special education students lagged behind the factor group.

A comparison of advanced proficiency rates in HSPT language arts from 2009 to 2011 showed Livingston students as a whole going from 29.6% to 33.4% to 43.1%.

In mathematics, the figures were 45.1%, 52.9% and 50.5%.

Summarizing the results, the superintendent, Oates and school board members found that Livingston students did “phenomenally better” in general than their counterparts, but they agreed more work was needed with special education students.

Draeger also emphasized the township still needed to work more closely with the districts to which it sends special education students residing in Livingston because results among those students are not what the township district expects.

In other action on Monday, the Livingston board introduced policies on board member authority, pupil suicide prevention, public records, reporting accidents, reporting violence, vandalism, harassment, intimidation, bullying, and alcohol and other drug abuse and employee indemnification.

The board also adopted on second reading policies on: Board member qualifications, professional services, tuition income, budget preparation, political contributions, payment of claims, school district travel, payroll authorization, the student activity fund, financial reports and audit and comprehensive financial report.

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