Cherry Hill Public Schools have significant increase in 2016 PARCC participation rate

District officials expect participation numbers to continue improving with revised New Jersey graduation requirements for the high school graduating class of 2020

Cherry Hill Public Schools had a significant increase in the number of students taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment in 2016 compared to the first year of the test in 2015.

However, the district still believes there is room for improvement.

Data from the 2016 PARCC assessment was presented at Tuesday night’s Cherry Hill Board of Education work session meeting. The data included participation rates for all of the grades, three to 11, performing the PARCC assessment. Every grade level had an increase in participation last year, with some grade levels having a significantly large increase. In 2015, only 11 percent of 11th-grade students completed the test. In 2016, the number jumped to 47 percent. All other grades had more than half of students participate.

Numbers also increased in grades three to five, where the participation rates were the highest in 2015. Third grade had the highest participation rate of all grades in the district in 2016 at 92 percent. This was a slight increase above 86 percent from 2015.

Still, the district wants the numbers to climb higher, particularly in the high school level where participation is the lowest. Changes in the graduation requirements from the state Department of Education could have an effect on the numbers starting in 2017.

Students in the Class of 2020 must take the PARCC assessment in grades nine, 10 and 11 for English/language arts. Students must also take the PARCC algebra I, geometry and algebra II tests. A passing score must be met on any of the three English/language arts exams and any of the three math exams. A passing score is constituted as a student scoring on level four or five on the performance scale. Level four is labeled, “met expectations,” while level five is constituted as, “exceeds expectations.”

If a student cannot achieve a passing score on any of the three exams in English/language arts or math, they will then have the chance to achieve a passing score on an alternate assessment, such as the SAT, ACT, PSAT or Accuplacer, to meet the graduation requirement. However, students will only be able to use an alternate exam if they take the PARCC assessment all three years.

“(Students) have to sit (for PARCC),” Superintendent Joe Meloche said during the meeting. “If they don’t pass, then they can hit the cut score on one of the other tests.”

Graduation requirements will change again for the high school class of 2021. Students will be required to meet a passing score on PARCC’s English/Language Arts grade 10 exam and on the PARCC algebra I test.

“If (students) do not pass the PARCC assessment, they will have to file a portfolio appeal,” Meloche said.

For current high school students, a portfolio appeal is used as a graduation requirement when a student is unable to reach a cut score on a state-approved assessment.

During the presentation, Farrah Mahan, the director of curriculum in Cherry Hill Schools, said the district is communicating the changes in the graduation requirements with high school freshmen. Students were informed of the changes at orientation, and the changes are also being told to parents at back to school nights. More communication is expected leading up to this school year’s test. Cherry Hill schools will conduct the exam from March 27 to April 7.

Cherry Hill Public Schools scored well again on the PARCC exam in 2016 compared to the state average. Most grade levels had more students scoring at level four or five than the state average school in both English/language arts and math.

The district is also hoping to assess its strengths and weaknesses in teaching specific standards through evidence statement reports. The reports break down what curriculum standards students are performing strongly in and what standards they are struggling in based on their PARCC performance. District officials hope to share the data with administrators and teachers to find ways to improve the students’ learning in specific areas.

To view the Cherry Hill Public Schools’ full 2016 PARCC presentation, visit http://www.chclc.org/uploaded/Academics/Curriculum_Instruction_Assessment/Assessment/PARCC_Results_2016_in_PDF_for_the_website.pdf.