At the Oct. 18 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Joan Mast, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, presented the results from the state assessment, including the New Jersey ASK and HESPA.
Overall, she noted that Scotch Plains-Fanwood students always score higher than the state average and are within 15 students either way of the District Factoring Grouping(DFG).
The District Factor Grouping(DFG) compares Scotch Plains-Fanwood to similar school districts throughout the state.
First, Dr. Mast presented the results for the Language Arts testing.
- Third Grade: Above the DFG by 13 students and above the state.
- Fourth Grade: Below the DFG by 13 students and above the state.
- Fifth Grade: Above the DFG by 5 students and above the state.
- Sixth Grade: Above the DFG by 8 students and above the state.
- Seventh Grade: In proximity to the DFG but a little below, still above the state.
- Eighth Grade: Below the DFG by 5 students and above the state.
- Eleventh Grade: Below the DFG by 2 students and above the state.
(note: student number is rounded)
Mast noted that for the percentage of students proficient on the HESPA in 11th grade, SPF was neck and neck with the DFG but below by half a percentage point.
She added that SPF Special Education students performed better than the DFG.
Second, the results of the Mathematics portions were presented.
- Third Grade: Above the DFG by 9 students and above the state.
- Fourth Grade: Above both the DFG and state.
- Fifth Grade: Above the DFG by 2 students and above the state.
- Sixth Grade: Above the DFG by 9 students and above the state.
- Seventh Grade: A little bit of a drop from the DFG and above the state.
- Eighth Grade: Below the DFG by 10 students and above the state.
- Eleventh Grade: Below the DFG by a split of hair, Mast noted, still above the state.
Mast coupled the science results with the math section of her presentation, adding that science does not have as rigorous testing.
In grade four, SPF was below the DFG by six students, but above the state. In grade eight SPF was below by 9 students and above the state.
When it came to the levels of proficiency of SPF students, there was an increase in partially proficient students in Mathematics and a decrease in Advanced Proficient.
However, more students are advanced proficient in Math rather than Language Arts both in Scotch Plains-Fanwood and throughout the DFG.
PTA mother, Cindy Clancy Warren asked why there are more advanced proficiencies in Math versus Language Arts?
While Board Member, Betty Anne Woerner asked if the schools should focus more on Language Arts due to these results.
Mast addressed both questions by saying it has to do with where the state draws the cutline. For the math and language arts section it is two different think tanks putting the tests together and they are differently designed tests.
She added that you can only compare math results with math results and shouldn't compare the results to other sections.
What do we do as a result? Mast asked.
She said the principals look at the results with a building perspective and teacher will look at individuals students and who needs extra support or more of a challenge.
Mast also said it is important that not only do teachers and supervisors focus on test results but more importantly on in class learning.
Board member, Douglas Layne, asked how teachers and staff support partially proficient students or those just making it.
Mast replied that teachers will see how a student is working in class and the supervisor's role comes in, in case a teacher needs help with the student moving forward. But also, the educators do not want to place too much emphasis on one day of not being proficient, which is why daily performance in class matters.
Board of Education president, Trip Whitehouse, was excited about the results saying "my gosh, these are good results."
He also said he didn't want to cheer too much because if it goes the other way they often say its only one test on day, but the DFG is an important measurement for us.
Board member, Nancy Bauer said everyone should be particularly proud that our staff works very hard and we have good test scores and yet instruction is going beyond just teaching to the test.