Report card results in

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Voorhees Sun

The Voorhees School District was pleased with the results of the state’s Department of Education report card study, but has noted several areas of improvements it needs to focus on through professional development and curriculum.

The annual New Jersey Report Card study is a state-mandated program that districts have been utilizing since 1995. The department presents 35 different fields of information for each school and compares the results to district factor groups and state averages.

Several categories are considered within the study, including district finances, student performance indicators, school environment, and the students themselves, according to department representatives.

Irene Afek, coordinator of elementary programs for the kindergarten through eighth grade school district, said the students performed well in both language arts and mathematics. Language arts scores increased from the 2007–08 school year, she said, which is impressive because the students typically do very well each year in the subject.

The district invested funding in improving its professional development last year, she said, which is shown with the improvements in the scores. The district will also be instituting a new language arts and literacy curriculum throughout its schools by the 2010–11 year, she said, to keep improving its scores in the report card tests.

The Scott Foresman Reading Street and My Sidewalks curriculum will be instituted district wide next year, Afek said, with several special education classes already using the curriculum this year.

“We’re pleased that we made Adequate Yearly Progress again this year. That has been through the great support of our staff. Specifically, in the past few years we’ve focused our resources on professional development so we can address the needs of the underperforming students and close the achievement gap,” Afek said. “Specifically in language arts, our scores went up, same with literacy. We believe it’s a result of our focus on a heavy emphasis of nonfiction reading and writing in the past few years. We brought in an enriched language arts curriculum and we believe it shows through the results of the testing.”

While the district’s math scores were still high, they did decrease from the 2007–2008 school year, Afek said. This needs to be looked at, but it can also be attributed to a new math test that the state issued for this past program. Grades three and four in the district had completely new tests in mathematics, she said. In the next few years as students and teachers become used to the new test, the scores will most likely improve, Afek said.

To help improve scores, the district is reorganizing its special education classes and has assigned a mathematics specialist to each classroom to help bridge the achievement gap.

“Math tests went down throughout the state. We are going to take a better look at math. We’re very optimistic that our new math curriculum will improve scores as well,” Afek said. “Hopefully it will increase student achievement.”

The district typically outscores the state average and is similar to other districts that are in the same “District Factor Group,” Afek said.

In the Eastern Regional School District, students improved in the advanced proficient category for both mathematics and language arts literacy. In 2008–09, students scored 16 percent advanced proficient in language arts literacy and 42 percent advanced proficient in mathematics, a 2 percent increase in both tests from the previous year. The average SAT scores for regional students improved in all three categories over the 2007–08 years. In 2008–09 students averaged scores of 561, 538, and 538 in the mathematics, verbal, and essay portion of the SAT, respectively.

The average scores outperformed both the state and district factor group SAT scores.

A representative from the Eastern Regional School District could not be contacted to discuss the results further for this story.

To view the complete study for both the Voorhees K-8 District and the Eastern Regional School District, please visit the state’s Department of Education Web site at education.state.nj.us.

School Narratives

Each school in the Voorhees School District provided the state with a unique “school narrative” to describe its efforts and goals for the 2009–10 school year. Here is a school-by-school list taken directly from the New Jersey Department of Education’s School Report Card study Web site.

The full reports for the district and each school can be found at the departments Web site at education.state.nj.us/rc.

Edward T. Hamilton

Principal Kristine DiCoio

E.T. Hamilton is a kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school with a population of 512 students. Our students come to us from many different backgrounds.

Twenty-five languages are represented within our school community.

During the 2008–09 school year, our school objectives focused on both math and literacy. Students in kindergarten through third grade were introduced to a new, technology-based mathematics program, enVisions Math.

SmartBoards and projectors were placed in these classrooms. This technology was utilized in the instruction of all subjects. In the area of literacy, students in grades fourth and fifth were introduced to an exciting supplemental reading program, “Achieve 3000.”

Through this program, students were able to read non-fiction articles on their computers, at their own reading levels, and then complete level-appropriate materials.

The many successes of Hamilton School during the 2008–09 school year are due to the commitment of our Board of Education, administration, teaching staff, support staff and parents. The vision and planning of this supportive team strives to look to the future to improve the quality of education in the Voorhees Township School District.

Kresson School

Principal Barbara Dunleavy

Kresson School is a kindergarten through grade five school with a current enrollment of 394 students. There are four classes of grades one, two, three, and four, three classes of grade five, and two half-day kindergarten sessions.

Academically Kresson students continue to excel in all areas of the curriculum. This high level of achievement is a result of motivated students, supportive parents, and committed teachers.

Kresson School’s teachers are lifelong learners and continue to refine instructional methods and techniques.

Best practices are consistently observed throughout the school.

Examples of differentiated instruction, staff collaboration, and authentic assessment are evident in all classroom settings.

Literacy continues to be integrated into all areas of the curriculum.

Our Reading Incentive Program and Annual School Book Walk highlight our commitment to literacy. This year’s theme, “Lights, Camera, Action” focused on books that were made into movies.

Each evening our students read for at least 20 minutes and created displays for the Kresson Book Walk that compared the book to the movie.

In addition, students from all grade levels created Reader’s Theatre performances of selected books. The assembly was a creative ending to a very successful reading incentive program.

Osage School

Principal Diane Young

The members of Osage Elementary School continue to be proud members of a school committed to its students’ academic, social, and emotional success. It is presently one of four elementary schools in the Voorhees Township School District.

Our population of approximately 600 students comes from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We celebrate our diversity that serves to enrich our school community.

Instruction is infused with technology as an integral part of the classroom experience at Osage School. Technology integration continues to be a part of the everyday life of our students and staff.

This school year our fourth and fifth grade students have the privilege of using Kidbiz3000 as a supplement to the Language Arts Literacy program.

Kidbiz3000 is a computerized program that allows students the opportunity to read non-fiction articles at their “just right” reading level.

This is a differentiated approach to reading instruction that helps students improve their reading comprehension and writing skills.

In order to support students who need extra assistance, many additional educational opportunities have been developed. Osage teachers regularly volunteer to help children after school in our Homework Helpers Program. We offer eligible Basic Skills students an extended day program.

Students in this program receive instruction in math and reading one hour prior to the regular school day.

Students in grades three and four also participate in after school clubs to strengthen their writing and problem solving skills.

These support systems have proven to be very successful.

Signal Hill School

Principal Sheila Ferreri

This year Signal Hill houses over 570 students in Pre School, Kindergarten, and grades one through five.

Currently, our class sizes range from 18 to 24 in grades kindergarten to five.

The Voorhees Township schools offer an inclusive Pre School program with students participating from district-wide schools who are instructed and housed at Signal Hill School.

In addition to our three Pre School Disabilities classes, we also have four Pre School classrooms of three and four year olds.

These classes are fully inclusive, with both typical and special needs students working and playing together.

Parents enter their children in a district-wide lottery in the spring for placement in this very distinctive program.

Technology is in the forefront throughout our district and currently at Signal Hill.

We have over 225 Internet connected computers run by building servers.

All classrooms are equipment with SmartBoards and additional computers on five laptop carts are available for daily instructional use throughout the building.

A district-wide Technology Plan includes ongoing staff training and has resulted in the infusion of technology in our classrooms at all grade levels.

Voorhees Middle School

Principal Charles Ronkin

The Voorhees Middle School has approximately 1,200 students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

We are a culturally diverse school with students from all over the world speaking a variety of languages.

Academics in the Voorhees Middle School are excellent. Our students continue to score very high on standardized tests.

Accelerated courses and an Enrichment Program are offered in the middle school curriculum.

Related arts, physical education and world languages help to give VMS students a well-rounded education.

Along with high achievement in the academics our students have excelled in athletics and the arts. VMS has captured numerous team championships and regularly sends students to All South Jersey Band and All South Jersey Chorus.

The VMS Drama productions are featured each year in Teen Arts and are consistently recognized for their outstanding performance.

Our students get actively involved with their community.

Through school government, volunteer groups and fundraisers VMS students have helped the “needy” in Voorhees as well as the state, country and around the world.

Students help their classmates through mentoring, peer mediation, tutoring and more.

Annually VMS administration and staff establish goals and initiatives to keep our school moving forward.

We continue to work on Differentiated Instruction, Achieve 3000, Learnia, Co-Teaching/Inclusion, NJASK-8 support classes, character education, reading and writing across the curriculum, non-fiction writing, technology integration in all subject areas, and special projects for our students.

Eastern Regional High School

No district narrative provided.