Majority of Eastern students graduate through using the ‘alternative assessment,’ as statewide scores remain low
At the Sept. 26 Eastern Camden County Regional School District Board of Education meeting, Robert Cloutier, director of curriculum, gave a presentation regarding the district’s performance on the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers test from the previous year.
Last spring was the fourth administration of the PARCC test, and while conversation is still ongoing about the future of the test and potential changes are looming, as it stands, the classes of both 2019 and 2020 must pass PARCC or an alternative assessment, while future classes would have to pass the Algebra I PARCC and English Language Arts 10 PARCC.
According to figures provided by Cloutier, the class of 2018 saw all students graduate from Eastern, however only seven from the class of 447 students graduated via the PARCC for both ELA and Math. A large majority of the class, nearly 400 students, graduated through the alternative assessment for both ELA and math, which is a caveat that many schools in New Jersey hope stays if PARCC changes are made.
Proposals made to change PARCC were tabled earlier this month and are expected to be acted upon in October, as future graduating classes, as it stands, will have to specifically pass PARCC without an alternative assessment available.
“What was going to happen was [for the class of 2021 and beyond] they were going to stay with Algebra I and ELA 10 PARCC, but they were going to stay with the alternative assessment as well to keep them available to students,” said Cloutier. “You can see that the majority of our students who graduated last year used one of the many available alternative assessments. Many of our students meet the alternative requirements by their freshman year, some even by eighth grade if they pass the Algebra I.”
A big problem with PARCC remains the math section. In the state, approximately 46 percent of students who took algebra in eighth grade passed the PARCC, down from 77 percent and 75 percent the previous two years. Meanwhile, students who took general mathematics only pass the PARCC assessment at a 28 percent rate, which has been a steady rate over the past three years.
“In our sending districts, our students who have algebra in eighth grade do very well, especially compared to state averages,” said Cloutier. “So about 25 to 35 percent of our incoming freshmen already have Algebra I. However, students who do not have algebra and take the general mathematics test are much different, both on the state level and there is some progress with our sending districts, but still over 60 percent of our incoming freshmen this year did not pass the eighth-grade general math test as coming in.”
There is no grade level specific data yet available for the 2018 test for mathematics, however the state averages in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II have all improved since the test’s inception.
The ninth-grade state average for passing has increased from 18 percent to 45 percent, while the 10th-grade state average percentage passing in Geometry has increased from 8 percent to 30 percent.
As for ELA, grades nine and 10 for Eastern have tended to hover around the state average year after year, bouncing between slightly above and below, which leaves plenty of room for improvement.
“The state average is concerning, and us being slightly above state average is also concerning,” said Cloutier.
The full PARCC presentation that was presented to the board is available on the Eastern Camden County Regional Board of Education website, under the district and accountability tabs, at www.eccrsd.us.