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Eastern Regional reflects on state’s summary report for the 2016–2017 year

The district saw improvements with chronic absenteeism but continues to struggle with PARCC exams.

At its Jan. 17 meeting, Eastern Regional High School’s Board of Education reflected on the district’s 2016–2017 performance summary report conducted by the state.

The report, which was recently released by the state Department of Education, included 26 new elements this year, including PARCC target scores, performance trends, chronic absenteeism and out-of-school and in-school suspensions.

In PARCC’S English section, the high school met the 2016–2017 target in seven out of eight subcategories, as students with disabilities did not reach the performance goals. Roughly 43.9 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in the ELA category.

In math, Eastern did not meet the target it two areas, including the schoolwide target, because last year scores decreased in two out of three math areas tested. Only 29.9 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in math.

“Obviously, the one area that’s still a problem is the math area,” board president Bob DeCicco said. “I know we’re heading up, but what are we doing specifically?”

Robert Cloutier, director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, says last summer a team of Eastern math teachers created a PARCC handbook for students by surveying all of the released math test items.

“(Teachers) are working that into their daily lesson plans in terms of more direct PARCC practice,” Cloutier said. “That’s two things we’re really focusing on — more direct PARCC practice and what can we do to move students further along?”

The high school is also partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to analyze the district’s dense math data, which will, ideally, in due time, place more students into advanced mathematics courses.

Last year, Eastern experienced the greatest influx in the geometry portion of the exam, as scores decreased from the year prior.

“(Geometry) is not as understable. That is certainly an area we’re really looking at,” Cloutier said. “It really was a stand-out concern. We didn’t see that one coming at all.”

According to the report, roughly 95 percent of seniors graduated in 2017.

In a new piece of the report, the state examines students’ post secondary enrollment status roughly 16 months after graduation. According to the report, 84.3 percent of the class of 2016 were still enrolled in some form of private or public institution.

As far as chronic absenteeism, a category the state identified as its unique concern to report to the federal government for the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, roughly 8.8 percent of Eastern students were absent for 10 percent or more of days enrolled. During the 2015–2016 school year, 24 percent of students were absent more than 15 days. In the 2016–2017 year, that particular figure fell to 13 percent, as only students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students did not meet the stated goal for chronic absenteeism.

Eastern’s overall summative rating, which encompasses the weighted scores of graduation rates, chronic absenteeism and PARCC scores, places the direct in the 52nd percentile.

Cloutier attributes the school’s PARCC scores to affecting the summative rating.

“With the new commissioner of education … one can only hope they get rid of PARCC,” board member Hillary Garr said.

In other news:

• Incumbent Robert Paul of Voorhees was sworn onto the board of education after winning in November. He’s been a member since 2007.

• Since former board member Dennis Deichert of Gibbsboro recently resigned, the board of education is accepting applications for the vacant position. The appointed term will run from Feb. 21 to Dec. 31. Eligible residents of Gibbsboro who have an interest in filling the position, can seek more information at www.eccrsd.us/news/all-district-news/eastern-boe-member-vacancy.

• Claire Probst was selected as Scholar of the Month for December, and Michelle Xu was selected as Scholar of the Month for January.

• No HIB incidents were reported since the last BOE meeting on Dec. 20.

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