NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Ann Marie Inzano, Interim Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision gave a presentation regarding the recent standardized test results at the Thursday, Nov. 17 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. Recent scores of PARCC, NJ ASK Science, ACT, SAT and AP tests were included in the presentation.
The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests were administered in 2015 and 2016. The test assesses English language arts and math skills in grades 3-11. The latest test was reduced to one testing window instead of two when the PARCC was first introduced. In 2016 the testing time was also reduced by 90 minutes. According to Inzano the state had listened to feedback from parents and educators after the 2015 test, and amended it. Therefore, comparing the 2015 and 2016 PARCC test scores is like “comparing apples to oranges,” she said.
Generally, New Providence students perform above the national and state levels both in language arts and math. However, PARCC scores in grade level 11 were below the national and state averages. Inzano speculated that the reason for the poor performance is that the junior class has other means to prove their aptitude level both in language arts and math as satisfactory scores in SAT, ACE or AP tests fulfill the high school graduation requirements. She noted that many junior students skip the PARCC test or do not take it seriously. Also, fifth grade students did not perform as well as other elementary school grades.
Students up to graduation class of 2020 have many options to meet the graduation requirements. Those include receiving a passing grade in PARCC or other standardized tests. The requirements will change for the class of 2021 when a passing score in PARCC tests will become mandatory. Inzano explained that there is an effort “to change the culture in high school” and have the students take the PARCC test more seriously going forward.
On the other hand most students do very well in the NJASK Science test in which fourth and eighth grade students participate. New Providence students are also performing better in SAT tests than their peers at the state and national levels. The percentage of high school students that score 3 or above in the AP tests is high in New Providence. More students are also taking AP level courses.
Inzano noted that in the elementary school level some topics are not taught in class before the students take the test. The district will be amending curriculum to better meet the testing expectations, she said. The district is trying “to help students to become the best they can be.”
All subjects are getting more interconnected, Inzano explained. The focus in English language arts is in all content areas, including informational and scientific texts. Social studies are connected with language arts and students in STEM classes engage in critical reading and analysis. Since the PARCC test is done in computers the technology department has been helpful in integrating technology in the test taking strategies, she said.
Inzano also noted that the staff is supportive of each other. “We have experts right here.” The professional development and training is ongoing in the district. Inzano expressed her gratitude to the staff and administration in dealing with the new testing challenges. “You are doing everything right.”