BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Two times a year, in the fall and the spring, the district administrators review the latest information on student achievement. Earlier this month Assistant Superintendent Scott McKinney and school administrators gave the latest NJ Student Achievement and School Performance Report at a Board of Education meeting.
This report is one way for everyone to answer the question, “If we say we are a high performing district, how do we know?” The fall report compares the district's scores to the scores it received in the previous four years. In the spring, the presentation will compare the district’s scores within the data dashboard and see how these numbers reflect the efficacy of the five-year strategic plan, “Good to Great.”.
Participating in the presentation were: Patricia Gasparini; Frank Geiger; Jon Morisseau; Jessica Nardi; Robert Nixon; Laurie Scott and Drew Ziobro.
Student achievement on the NJ Student Learning Assessments (which replaced the PARCC tests), is reported on a scale of one to five, beginning with one, "failing to meet grade," then increasing incrementally to "exceeding grade-level expectations."
In the area of ELA (English Language Arts), the district has made “significant progress” in the past five years. High school scores improved but Grade 6 still needs attention.
In the area of Math, scores improved at almost every level, but more attention is needed to increase scores for Grade 6 students.
In elementary schools, ELA/Literacy passing rates are consistently high, with at least 80% passing in all grades.
The elementary schedule has been revised so teachers can collaborate and plan how to support student needs and personalize instruction during the WIN (What I Need) period.
Other changes include the adoption of a new writing program this year throughout Grades 1 to 5 and a revision of the way skills in Language Arts are assessed.
In Math, scores are strong and have improved in grades 4 and 5.
In grades 3 to 5, the curriculum has been tweaked to focus on specific areas. These details can be found on Page 11 in the actual report, here.
At Columbia Middle School (CMS) in ELA/Literacy, scores in Grades 7 and 8 are high, but there was a drop in Grade 6. A pilot program, Grammar 101, is being used in sixth grade to improve students’ writing skills. In seventh grade, the focus is on improving reading skills, to improve critical thinking and analysis skills.
At CMS, scores in the math area remained about the same, but help is needed for some in Grade 6. Students in the advanced math progression continue to perform well. Instruction time has expanded and the restructured Math Pathways are yielding positive results in Algebra 1 and beyond.
On the high school level, the graduation pathways have been more clearly defined for current seniors, juniors and sophomores. Passing NJSLA ELA10 and NJSLA Algebra 1 are still the primary way to meet the requirements. Other pathways are available for students in the classes of 2020, ‘21, and 22. See the details on page 16 of the report here.
At Governor Livingston High School (GLHS), there has been significant improvements in ELA/Literacy in grades 9 and 10. The use of Commonlit will be expanded, and teachers will target analytical reading skills and encourage evidence-based writing.
At GLHS, math scores continue to improve. The plan is to work on improving the skills needed for Algebra 1, using Mathspace for individualized instruction,
SAT 1 scores for the class of 2019 dropped by 16 points, they also dropped statewide for the class of 2019. Actual scores can be found for the years 2016 - 2019 on page 21.
The data for ACT tests is not yet available.
The AP Score passing rate was at 80% in 23 of the 28 subjects offered at GLHS. The passing rate for students is still more than 90%.
Going forward, the district will work on developing strong foundations for math and English Language Arts; support students with individual needs through the Instruction Review program; expand the course offerings to help prepare students for the next stage of their education -- college and/or career; support full-day co-teaching at the elementary schools; explore new ways of teaching special needs students at the secondary level, and implement a Social Emotional Learning plan to offer students new skills and strategies for life.