Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Interim Superintendent Carole L. Butler and Language Arts/English Supervisor Susan Tosti gave the Moorestown Township Public Schools Board of Education a presentation on the district Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers scores, covering student participation, district scores compared to state scores, how the data will be looked at and changes for the next PARCC testing in 2016.
Overall, MTPS performed either at or above the state scores. The presentation also revealed that 30 percent of students who were able to take the test refused, the highest being in the high school with 67 percent or less of students in each grade level taking the exams.
“These scores stand alone and act as a baseline for the district. We will use the data to assess curriculum, decide in professional development how we will move ourselves forward based on the baseline and take the assessment again this year and be able to compare data a little bit closer,” Butler said.
In the 2014–2015 academic year, New Jersey adopted PARCC to replace the HSPA and previous assessments, based on the Common Core standards. The PARCC tests were split into English/language arts and math sections and taken by students in third to 11th grade. The assessment system was to determine whether students were on track for college or career readiness.
Butler stressed the importance of taking the exams. The test is required by the state, and if not enough students take the test, it could negatively impact the district. Also, these tests provide detailed score information for parents and teachers, which can be used to better assess student needs for future learning. Without that data, it could be harder for the district to provide for the needs of students.
The PARCC at MTPS saw a total of 1,159 refusals of the 3,918 students in grades three through 11. The highest numbers participating were in the elementary schools, with more than 85 percent of students taking the PARCC in each grade. In the high school, however, numbers dropped to only 67 percent in ninth grade, 43 percent in 10th grade and 28 percent in 11th grade.
The PARCC assessment used five performance levels that delineated the knowledge, skills and practices students are able to demonstrate. The levels were 1: did not meet expectations, 2: partially met expectations, 3: approaching expectations, 4: met expectations, and 5: exceeded expectations. District scores were broken down by grade level and percentage of students receiving each level.
The outcomes of the PARCC assessment at MTPS saw the district exceed state percentages that met or were greater than level 4 in English/language arts and math. For English/language arts, grades three to 11 all saw highest percentages in level 4. For math, grades three through seven, it was the same. Math for eighth grade was split between algebra I, geometry and algebra II. Some ninth graders took the test as well as they were in those courses. On those tests, the highest percentage levels were in the level 3 or 4 categories.
“Overall, with the new assessment and all of the changes … we feel we are in a very good place in Moorestown for moving forward,” Tosti said.
The district planned to send PARCC information and student reports through the mail last week. There will also be presentations to parents about PARCC on Jan. 11 for students in grades three to six at the Upper Elementary School and on Jan. 12 for students in grades seven to 12 at the William Allen Middle School.
The district will use the PARCC data to identify strengths and gaps that exist in curriculum and instruction, inform the conversations of educators when discussing student progress and discuss where additional professional resources are needed to meet learning needs.
“It is our goal to look at the data and enhance our efforts and move our students forward,” Tosti said.
Test changes for this academic year include one testing window, 90 minutes overall reductions to tests and fewer test units. The PARCC assessment previously was over two testing windows in March and April. Test units were also reduced to three English/language arts units and three or four math units.
There are parent resources for understanding PARCC and their children’s individual PARCC scores available on the presentation at the MTPS website, www.mtps.com. The presentation will go through all of the slides with explanations and notes from the presenters.
In other news:
Various members of the school district were honored with recognitions for their work at the schools. Teachers Rose Trasatti and Debra Nelson were retiring, as was officer James Winters, who was a security guard at the schools. Also honored was board member Sheryl Sawin as she is leaving the BOE at the end of the year.