Haddonfield schools PARCC results sees mostly improvements, increased participation

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The Haddonfield Public Schools Board of Education received an overview of the district’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers scores, showing mostly areas of improvements and a small number of areas in need of extra work compared to last year.

“We had a much easier time testing. The kids were used to it … and the teachers were familiar with the procedure, so overall I feel we had smoother administration of the test,” Supervisor of Curriculum Craig Ogelby said.

In the 2014–2015 academic year, New Jersey adopted the PARCC to replace the HSPA and previous assessments in the elementary and middle schools, based on the Common Core standards. The PARCC tests, taken online, 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.

Haddonfield saw a significant increase in participation from students in the 2015–2016 year, compared to the previous school year. In 2014–2015, 25 percent of eligible students did not take PARCC. The percentage of students who did not take the test in 2015–2016 went down to 9 percent. Ogelby said this was a wonderful improvement, however the state asks each school ensure PARCC is taken by 95 percent of the students to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress.

“This is a state requirement … we didn’t make the 95 percent, so I will be back to talk with you in January for another action plan to get us to that 95 percent,“ Ogelby said.

PARCC 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.

In English/language arts, the students who met or exceeded expectations, receiving a 4 or 5, saw an increase in all grades except sixth.

For math, third, fifth, sixth and eighth grade saw increases, while fourth and seventh grade saw some regression. For Algebra I, students who met or exceeded expectations had a dramatic improvement from 32 percent to 78 percent. However, Algebra II saw a big regression from 32 percent to 9 percent. Geometry saw an increase in scores as well.

“The course configurations have changed at the middle school (in Algebra classes) … this year, we increased the number of students testing and dramatically improved (in Algebra I). For that same reason, Algebra II students (were affected) … because we are in the middle of this transition, we didn’t do well in Algebra II for that reason,” Ogelby said.

The outcomes of the PARCC assessment saw the district greatly exceed state percentages that met or were greater than level 4 in English/language arts and math in all categories

“For the most part, we’ve made good progress,” Ogelby said.

According to Ogelby, the district received detailed reports for students and by school. It was able to look at questions and standards and see where children did well and areas in need of improvement.

“We’ve never had that specificity as far as information goes before. For that reason, it is a valuable test,” Ogelby said.

The presentation is available at the district’s website, www.haddonfield.k12.nj.us.

In other news:

• The board approved the 2017–2018 academic calendars, 7–1. Board member Matthew Ritter opposed and Heather Paoli was absent from the meeting. School will start a week later next year to accommodate for construction from the bond referendum projects. According to the 2017–2018 draft calendar, school will be closed to students until Sept. 11. School normally opens the day after Labor Day. Major changes include the reduction of fall break from a week to two days and spring break from a week to three days. There are no days off in October. The Thanksgiving break and winter break will not change. School will also be closed on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day and Memorial Day. Superintendent Richard Perry said the calendars would be available online and sent to parents via email or newsletter so they have plenty of time to make arrangements.

• The October board meeting saw a heated discussion on fifth-grade field trips, in particular the safety trip to Sesame Place versus the entire fifth-grade trip. According to Perry, after reconvening with the elementary school principals and getting input from other people throughout the district, it was decided to move ahead with the Camp Ockanickon trip, to include all fifth graders, and the safeties will still have a reward activity, with pizza and bowling.