SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a South Plainfield Board of Education meeting Sept. 12, results of both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Advanced Placement (AP) tests administered during the 2017-2018 school year were presented to the public. 

According to the district report, AP exams are developed by a committee comprised of higher education faculty and expert AP teachers with the course reflecting college-and university-level expectations. The committee works with the Educational Testing Service to develop multiple choice and free response exam questions. Committee members also write and review the course description for each subject. 

At South Plainfield High School, a total of 23 AP exams are currently offered; scoring is based on a 1 to 5 scale and depending on one’s score, a student may be able to gain credits or skip the class in college. 

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“These students are taking what looks like a freshman level college class… and these tests are given globally,” said Mary Malyska, assistant superintendent for South Plainfield Schools. “Our scores hold true across the board…[based on] a 5-point scale, our numbers are really impressive.” 

Comprised of both an English language arts (ELA) and a mathematics component, the PARCC exam was administered to students last spring; third through eighth graders took the math component while the ELA component was administered to students in third through 11th grade.

Results of the 2017-2018 exams we received by the district in late August and sent home to parents in early September; PARCC uses five performance levels to define the knowledge, skills, and practices students are able to demonstrate with Level 4 and Level 5 considered passing scores. 

“The goal of PARCC is not to assess students’ content knowledge but to assess their application of skill [such as] how well can they apply the knowledge they have gained in their classrooms…” said Malyska. 

In South Plainfield, 68.4-percent of third graders; 67.5-percent of fourth graders; 53.3-percent of fifth graders; and 40.5-percent of sixth graders scored in Level 4 or Level 5 in mathematics. 

“We are still holding our own in fifth grade and have interventions and resources in place to assist students so that we can see them achieve further in the following years,” said Malyska 

At the middle school level, 42.6-percent of seventh graders taking the PARCC mathematics exam scored Level 4 or higher and, in eighth grade, only 16-percent of students scored within Level 4/5. However, in eighth grade, 52.5-percent of students scored in Level 4/5 in algebra I while 28.6 percent and 37-percent passed in geometry and algebra II, respectively. 

Malyska also acknowledged that while the district is holding steady in grade seven, grade eight is South Plainfield’s ‘lowest point.’ According to the assistant superintendent, eighth grade math scores dip not just in South Plainfield but throughout New Jersey and the PARCC consortium.

“If you look at the [scores] as a standalone you might really question it but when you look at what is happening across the U.S. with PARCC scores…and specifically in New Jersey… comparatively, we are on the right track,” she said. 

On the ELA component of the PARCC, 77.7-percent of third graders; 74-percent of fourth graders; 56.5-percent of fifth graders; 63.1-percent of sixth graders; 65.9-percent of seventh graders; and 57-percent of eighth graders scored Level 4 or higher. Additionally, at the high school, 46.4 percent of ninth graders, 59.3-percent of 10th graders, and 47.6-percent of 11th graders scored Level 4/5. 

“The scores in grade eight ELA are very different than they were for math … and we are within the span of what is going on in New Jersey and across states within the PARCC consortium…but grade eight remains a focus area for us this entire school year,” said Malyska. 

Malyska said that, in addition to professional development, analysis of LinkIt assessments (administered to students in kindergarten through grade 11 three times a year), and other strategies, the district has implemented the stack and build model at Grant and South Plainfield Middle School; through this method, the emphasis is on small groups and differentiated instruction, with each group focusing on a different task and skill that needs to be improved. 

The complete ‘District PARCC & AP Presentation 2017-2018’ includes individual building results for PARCC and details on the specific AP exams administered along with charts depicting how South Plainfield faired in comparison to other districts in New Jersey and within the testing consortium. It can be viewed online at

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