WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield students are performing at rates above the state average on standardized tests, according to state data.
The data shows that at least 70% of Westfield students in each grade level tested either met (a score of 4 out of 5) or exceeded (a score of 5 out of 5) grade-level expectations when taking the New Jersey Statewide Learning Assessment (NJSLA) for English Language Arts. Meanwhile, at least 50% of Westfield students in each grade level who took the NJSLA Mathematics assessment met or exceeded expectations.
Assistant Superintendent Paul Pineiro explained the district’s 2019 state testing results in a presentation to the school board Tuesday night.
“What we look for … is as much of a gap between us and the state’s performance,” Pineiro said. “We expect to be able to perform at night levels, relative to the total population of New Jersey.”
The NJSLA English Language Arts assessments are administered for students in grades three through ten. Meanwhile, the NJSLA Mathematics assessments are administered for students in grades three through eight, as well as to any student taking Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II. Approximately 50% of district students in grade eight took the Algebra I test, rather than the grade eight test, based on their mathematics course placement.
Scores were broken down into multiple subgroups, including students who are economically disadvantaged or enrolled in special education. Westfield students in both of these categories were also shown to score above the state’s averages. A total of 2.1% of Westfield students are considered economically disadvantaged, while 18.6% are students with disabilities that receive special education.
Statewide assessments administered in Westfield during the previous school year also included the ACCESS for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs), for students in kindergarten through grade 12; and the Dynamic Learning Maps, for students with “most significant intellectual disabilities” in grades three through 11.
The ACCESS for ELLs measures English language development in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Of the 43 students who took the exam last year, 13 students received a passing score, and an additional eight students were exited from the program in June 2019 for strong performance in other metrics.
The Dynamic Learning Maps, designed as an alternative to the NJSLA, assess New Jersey state learning standards in language arts, mathematics, and science. Five students in the district took these exams. In language arts, four students scored “emerging” (a score of 1 out of 4) while one student met the target (score of 3 out of 4). Meanwhile, in mathematics, all five students scored “emerging” (a score of 1 out of 4). The state has not yet released science scores to districts.
Ultimately, Pineiro said, the district will consider the state’s data along with several other factors when deciding how best to improve curriculum.
“We have to keep in mind that there are so many variables. For example, year to year, each grade level of students is a different group of kids,” Pineiro said. “It was difficult for the supervisors to narrow down and say, the entire grade should be looking at this, that, and the other.”
“Teachers just have a really good sense of [knowing] where their students are at,” he said. “We need to continually look at, relative to this data, other data, the curriculum itself, and just what teachers are telling us about what they see with the students in their classrooms.”
More information about standardized testing can be found on the district website.