NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Overall New Providence students are showing success in the PARCC, ACT, SAT and AP tests, although there is room for further growth, especially when it comes to PARCC scores. Jay Richter, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision, provided a power point presentation to the Board of Education (BOE) at its Thursday, Nov. 16 meeting.
In the English Language Arts/Literacy section of the PARCC test taken in 2017 greater than 80 percent of the 4-8 grade students met or exceeded expectations. Among the third grade students 76 percent met or exceeded expectations. The PARCC test has been in place since 2015 and the district has three years’ worth of data to compare students’ progress. However, the test has changed somewhat since its inception, Richter noted.
While more than 80 percent of the 7th grade students met or exceeded the PARCC language tests in all three years, the percentage of 8th grade students has remained in the 70’s during 2015-2017. Richter said that the district “must continue to talk about” this fact. The district has to look for short and long term ideas and solutions in order to bring those test scores up. The district may make some revisions to the curriculum as well as evaluate the time factor.
In 2017 83 percent of 3rd and 4th graders met or exceeded the PARCC Math test, while the percentage was in the 70’s for grades 5-8. The district’s goal is to reach 80 or higher for all grade levels. On the other hand, there are some bright spots in the statistics, for example last year 76 percent of the 6th graders met or exceeded expectations. Only 58 percent of the same students met those standards when they were 5th graders.
The high school students (grades 9-11) scores reflect the lax attitude of the test takers Richter said. The PARCC test has not been a part of the high school graduation requirements and many students opted not to take it or did not take the test seriously. Superintendent David Miceli explained in July that the district has adopted a state mandated policy change regarding student state assessment scores. Starting with the 2018 graduating class, the PARCC scores will be added into the transcripts that will be sent out to colleges. The policy change means that students should take PARCC testing seriously.
The success of high school students is more pronounced in the ACT and SAT scores compared to the state and national averages. In 2016 the average ACT composite score in New Providence was 25.6 (max score 36) while the state average was 23.1 and the national average 20.8. In 2017 the scores were 25.9, 23.9 and 21 respectively.
New Providence students continue to outscore their peers at the state and national levels for SAT tests. In 2017 New Providence students scored 614 on the SAT reading test while the state average score was 539 and national average 538. In the SAT math test those scores were 611, 537 and 533 respectively. Moreover, New Providence students have improved their own performance as the average SAT math test scores were 577 in 2016 and 585 in 2015.
Recent scores for both the ACT and SAT tests demonstrate that New Providence students are well prepared for college. Richter noted that the SAT is also changing which makes it difficult to analyze and compare test results year to year.
New Providence students are also performing better in the AP (Advanced Placement) exams than their peers at the state and nation level. In 2017 96 percent of students taking the AP exams scored 3 or higher (max score 5) compared to 71 percent in New Jersey and 60 percent nationwide. More than half of New Providence students who took the AP exams in 2017 were recognized for their performance.
The statewide science testing is also evolving, but New Providence students are keeping up with the trend of scoring above average. For 2018 the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment for Science will be comprised of four testing units that will be administered over a two day period. Students in grades 5, 8 and 11 will participate in the science assessment test. The district is well prepared for the evolving testing format, Richter said.