Scouts Honored, PARCC Scores Revealed at Montville Township Board of Education Meeting

L to R Jonathan Abramson, Daniel Ackaway, Thomas Ackaway, Casey Hojecki, Cameron Poole, Brandon Wong Credits: Melissa Benno
Montville Township 2015 PARCC outcomes for English Language Arts / Literacy Credits: Melissa Benno
Jonathan Abramson shakes hands with Board of Education President Dr. Karen Cortellino Credits: Melissa Benno
Scouts are congratulated by the Montville Township Board of Education members Credits: Melissa Benno
Scouts are congratulated by the Montville Township Board of Education members Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township's 2015 PARCC state testing results were presented by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Casey Shorter and six Eagle Scouts were honored at the Montville Township Board of Education meeting on Dec. 1.

PARCC Scores

In 2010, new academic standards, called the Common Core Curriculum, were adopted in New Jersey in order to better prepare students for college and careers.

Sign Up for E-News

PARCC stands for “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers” and is a group of states that came together to develop a new state assessment which measures students’ learning of this new curriculum. All New Jersey school districts must administer this new assessment to students in grades three through eleven, and it replaces the HSPA and the NJ-ASK tests.

The objectives of the test include providing assessment information that can be used for instruction during the school year, and report growth in performance as well as “absolute achievement” as described by Shorter.

Differences between this assessment and previous testing include: computer administration; the ability for students to show their work; and the fact that it is not simply a multiple-choice test, so it allows students to “apply skills like thinking, reason and justifying answers” according to Shorter. Furthermore, these tests “do not lend themselves to ‘teaching to the test,’” according to Shorter, because the “focus is on applying skills. The daily practice of these skills in the classroom is what will serve students as the best preparation for the tests.”

Shorter warned parents that students’ scores may look lower this year because “the tests measured more complex skills, and the first year’s scores are a new baseline to measure against moving forward.”  

“While the District has brought the curriculum up to the Common Core standards, teachers are still adjusting to the new materials and students are adjusting to the new way of receiving this material. Some of the methodologies have changed; there’s more ‘Problem-Based Learning’ and more technology-driven instruction, so teachers and students are still adjusting. It’s a process. We expect improvement in future years. It’s going to take time,” Shorter said.

The tests were administered in two waves in the spring of 2015, and the scores which the District received are a combination of the two waves. According to Shorter, education representatives from different states had to determine what the baseline for comparisons of students’ scores would be. Shorter stated the District has received “a number of score reports for grades three through eleven, and individual score reports for high school students” but the District has not yet received the grades three through eight individual score reports. They are expected to arrive in the next few weeks, and will be distributed to parents.

What Do the Results Mean?

Shorter said the results will be “more in-depth for parents,” and will tell the District “how the child falls in relation to the Common Core standards and expectations, and will provide teachers with more specific information about how they can help their students progress in areas identified by the testing as being in need of attention.”

The testing results will be in five “levels.” Prior testing indicated only three levels: “partially proficient,” “proficient,” or “highly proficient.” PARCC tests delineate:

Level 1 – not yet meeting grade-level expectations

Level 2 – partially meeting grade-level expectations

Level 3 – approaching grade-level expectations

Level 4 – meeting grade-level expectations

Level 5 – exceeding grade-level expectations

Shorter stated that some states had adopted level three as “meeting grade-level expectations.”

Shorter showed a sample English language arts score report and stated that the results letter will provide a lot more information for parents. Results letters will indicate the levels noted above, and a scaled score. It will also contain a school, district, state and PARCC average to which the parent can compare their child’s score. The PARCC average will compare a student’s performance to the eight states which participate in the testing consortium, down from about 26 at the program’s inception, according to Shorter. Reading and writing will be separated into different reports.

Shorter encouraged parents to view the video PARCC issued which helps explain the scores; the video and Shorter’s power point slide presentation can be viewed here: PARCC Scores Presentation

Comparison of Montville Township Students’ Scores to State Scores

Shorter showed English language arts/literacy test scores and most Montville scores were twenty percentage points higher than state scores. Then-juniors’ scores were four percentage points lower than the state, but only 35 juniors took the test. For grades three through eight, more than 200 District students took the test per grade. Shorter stated that the rest of the sub-group scores will follow in 2016.

District students’ math scores were at least eleven percentage points higher than state scores, and Lazar Middle School’s Algebra I students’ scores were a surprising 55% higher than state scores. Shorter attributed that to “a concentrated number of advanced students at Lazar took that test.”

Shorter said that the test scores will be used to “reflect upon strengths and gaps that exist in curriculum and instruction.

“Our District has many assessments that we use to evaluate programs and students, and this is another piece of that, which the District can use, hopefully effectively, to improve our instruction and meet the needs and weaknesses of our students,” he said. “These conversations will continue as we get more scores, from the central office to supervisors to the classroom: what do these data show?  How can we use it to help our students improve and achieve higher levels?”

Shorter said that PARCC has released large portions of test questions, along with answers and rationale for scoring, which the District will use to be better informed about future test questions.

Board Members’ Questions

Board Member Michael Palma asked Shorter what was considered a “valid” test score, in case students had simply answered “A” to every question, and Shorter said that information will be more clear as more data is received.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. René Rovtar stated that students had to have taken both waves of the test to be considered “valid,” but there’s no “quality” measurement, so a student could in fact have simply entered “A” for all questions and still be considered “valid.”

Shorter further stated that 2016 testing will involve only one wave and will be reduced in total time by 90 minutes due to district feedback to testing officials.

Board Member Michael O’Brien asked if perhaps the test is “flawed” because of the learning curve cited in Shorter’s presentation. Shorter said he would not use that word. O’Brien also asked why so few then-juniors had taken the test, and high school senior and Student Representative to the Board Tasneem Amer stated that after so many standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT, students were “fed up” and didn’t want more tests. O’Brien asked what can parents who need help with interpretation of the results do, and Shorter stated they can contact the child’s guidance counselor.

Board Member Dr. David Modrak stated his disappointment at the large numbers of high school students who had “opted out” from the test and asked what could be done to encourage better participation. Shorter stated that in the future the results may be used to consider students for entrance into advanced programs. He further stated that “as parents see the data they can get, they may be more motivated not to ‘opt out’ their children.” Modrak asked if further resources would be provided to students based on test results and Shorter stated that would be decided in the future. Modrak further stated he was concerned that students are being overburdened with testing.

Board Member Michael Johnson asked how much weight should be given to these first-year scores, and Rovtar stated the 2015 scores will not be used for placement decisions but the 2016 scores will be used.

Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino asked if PARCC accurately tests curriculum the way it’s supposed to, and Shorter stated “The Common Core is asking our students to do things differently. I think the questions are designed to tap into what the Common Core is asking of our students. I think a lot of the questions are pretty good, and challenging. The questions are asking the kids to think critically and use various pieces of data to draw conclusions, which is the heart of Common Core.”

Palma asked if Governor Christie had rejected the Common Core Curriculum and Rovtar stated Christie asked the NJ Department of Education to review it, which is currently underway.

Six Scouts Achieve Eagle Rank

The Board honored six Township seniors from Boy Scout Troop 74 who recently achieved their Eagle Scout rankings. Each Scout was presented with a plaque showing a resolution by the BOE to honor him.

“We are honored to have not one or two, but six Eagle Scouts here tonight,” stated Cortellino. “That’s really unbelievable, because only a small percentage of Scouts make it to that level.”

Jonathan Abramson’s project involved creating an approximately half-mile long trail on Pyramid Mountain.  His goal was to link one of the entrances to the mountain to the trail system. He and his volunteers built a new bridge and created a trail marked by natural “boundaries” and blue markings.

Daniel Ackaway’s project was to construct a trailhead kiosk structure for Montville’s Open Space Advisory Committee at Camp Dawson in Towaco. It encloses a bulletin board built onto the kiosk intended for display of trail map signage.

Thomas Ackaway organized a project that created two sports-themed recycling receptacles at Camp Dawson in Towaco, to make it a fun challenge for kids to dispose of their recycling. 

Casey Hojecki's Eagle Project consisted of the design and installation of a historically accurate fence on the site of the Henry Doremus Home on Main Road in Towaco.  The fence covers 330 linear feet and was constructed with the help of 19 volunteers. 

Cameron Poole’s project honors Montville Township veterans by enhancing the VFW grounds.  Poole reproduced and replaced plaques, installed mulch, plantings and a new bench.  He resurfaced and painted the mailbox that is used for the proper disposal of decommissioned flags. 

Brandon Wong renovated the 9/11 and Pan Am Flight 103 monument in the Community Park. Wong led his volunteers in removing old shrubs and mulch and relocating the existing monument to the front of the memorial circle. A Japanese maple tree was planted where the monument had been, and the Scout team added topsoil, ground cover and mulch.  A Township-donated bench was also installed near the site. 


Cortellino stated her “shout-out” to MTHS junior Rachel Levy, who sang a duet with actress, singer, and Grammy-award winner Kristen Chenowith on the television show “Broadway at The White House,” which aired on TLC network on Thanksgiving. “She is an amazing talent,” raved Cortellino.

Cortellino also offered kudos to District Supervisor of Humanities David Tubbs, who made a presentation regarding the District’s Humanities Research Program to the Morris County School Boards Association meeting. “They were rapt,” stated Cortellino. O’Brien stated that many individuals lined up after the presentation to speak with Tubbs regarding the program.

Member Mike Palma gave a shout-out to Tubbs too, regarding the recent District supervisor salary negotiations. “It was a good negotiation and a pleasure to work with you,” stated Palma.

Cortellino also thanked Rovtar for her attention to the high school’s wrestling program, to which Rovtar added, as promised, a third coach due to the number of students on the team.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Pyramid Mountain, Montville Township

"Forever Green" Hike (10&up)

Education Health & Wellness


Sat, February 24, 1:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Lunar New Year Celebration at Library

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink


Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, Montville Township

Snowshoe Sundays at Pyramid Mtn

Health & Wellness


Sun, February 25, 5:00 PM

Montville Township High School, Montville

Harlem Wizards Fundraiser for Pathways

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Sports


Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Senior House, Montville

Montville Republican Club February Meeting


Adults Who Interact With Teens Offered Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

February 24, 2018

With teenage suicide rates on an upswing, a barrage of tragedies in the news, and the heightened pressures of adolescence in a media-frenzied world, it’s more important than ever for caring adults to know how to intervene effectively.

Morris County again this year is funding Youth Mental Health First Aid training through NewBridge Services for adults who regularly interact with children ...

Boy Scout Michael Manetta Achieves Eagle Scout Ranking

February 11, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Members of Boy Scout Troop 74 gathered on Jan. 14 as Scout Michael Manetta was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at his Court of Honor.

Officials such as members of the Montville Township Committee, the Montville Township Board of Education, former post commander Frank Warholic of VFW Post 5481, Dee Cook, who is treasurer of the Dog Park Advisory Committee and Fishawack ...

SHREK THE MUSICAL Comes to Montville Township High School

February 19, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ- SHREK THE MUSICAL is the spring production for the Montville Township High School Drama Club. The performers will stage the Tony Award-winning musical Thursday through Sunday, March 1 through 4 at MTHS. SHREK THE MUSICAL is based on the 2001 Dreamworks movie. Tickets to this fun family production are only $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior ...

Talking Baseball in Februrary; Roxbury Teen Keeps Swinging for Cancer Patients

February 24, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ - Major League pitchers and catchers reported for their first workouts last week, one sign that baseball season is on its way. Another: The beginning of Roxbury High School student Landon Monro's annual effort to register players and sponsors for his anti-cancer baseball tournament.

The 5th Annual Landon Monro Stand Up to Cancer tournament ...

Cops Called for Two People Shouting Racial Slurs During ‘Black Panther’ in Sparta

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night after a drunken woman and her boyfriend interrupted a screening of the movie “Black Panther” by shouting racial slurs, according to a witness and police.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including ...

Adults Who Interact With Teens Offered Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

February 24, 2018

With teenage suicide rates on an upswing, a barrage of tragedies in the news, and the heightened pressures of adolescence in a media-frenzied world, it’s more important than ever for caring adults to know how to intervene effectively.

Morris County again this year is funding Youth Mental Health First Aid training through NewBridge Services for adults who regularly interact with children ...


How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting can have an ...

Ask the Care Advocate

Dear Heidi,

My mom lives home alone and a few days ago she fell while reaching for something

in her hallway closet. She was able to push her emergency alert button and they

called me. I live nearby so I went to check on her and she had pain in her leg and hip

area. We got her to the hospital and it turns out that she broke her hip. She had

surgery to repair it and now we are faced ...

Century 21 The Crossing Open Houses this Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses this weekend:

Saturday, Feb. 24 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, Feb. 25 from 1 - 4 p.m. 

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 Summit Drive, Bld #10, North Caldwell


Another Luxury Listing in the Pond Section of Montville Presented by Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Century 21 the Crossing and Jason Failla do it again!  Another luxury listing in the Pond section of Montville.

"This new listing has had over 13,000 views in less then a week," Century 21 The Crossing's Jason Failla said. "Anyone can list your home, it takes a comprehensive marketing strategy to sell it!"

"Luxury is in each ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

The Best Way to Pay Your Child a Compliment

“Of course you’re good-looking.”  “You’re the best friend ever.”  “Who wouldn’t want you on their team?”  Is there a parent out there (including me) who hasn’t praised a child in order to make him or her feel better?  Sometimes it’s true, and sometimes we say it because we just can’t stand to see them ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Pet Corner