District Testing Coordinator Faith Holmgren presented New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment results (NJGPA) to the Cherry Hill board of education on Dec. 6, findings that . spurred in-depth discussion by the board.
The test was administered in March to all 11th graders in English and language arts (ELA) and math. While initially designed to be a graduation assessment for the Class of 2023, the department of education later advised that the test would not be used as a graduation requirement but a field test.
“Since this assessment is not being used as a graduation assessment requirement, the NJDOE did provide districts with possible ways of using the results,” Holmgren explained. “They include using the results to review current curriculum and programming, as well as identifying areas of focus in preparation for the spring 2023 administration of NJGPA for our current juniors, which will not be a field test, but will be a graduation requirement.”
The test results showed that 48.9 percent of students were graduation ready in ELA and 59.2 percent in math, scores higher than the average percentage of students in the state considered ready to graduate.
An issue arose regarding two categories district students could fall under and the disparity between those graduation ready at Cherry Hill East (58 percent) and West (36 percent). The same percentage applied to the respective schools’ results for ELA. For math, 72.2 percent of students at East are graduation ready compared with 40.3 percent at West.
Holmgren explained that the district is using the test data to explore specific areas of focus by holding meetings with literary and technology coaches and teachers to provide instructional strategies. For math, there would be targeted interventions during algebra seminar and lunch and learn.
“These assessments are to be used as diagnostic tools,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche. “They’re for us to look at and say, ‘Here’s a weakness within the curriculum, here’s where there’s an area of weakness within an individual child.’ How do we address that and how do we move forward with that?’
“I don’t believe (the graduation-ready test) is an accurate or authentic representation of the academic potential or current achievement of where those children are,” he added. “It’s a necessary conversation.”
The board meeting began with the recognition of students for a number of awards, including the National Hispanic Recognition and African American Recognition awards, National Merit semifinalists and National Merit-commended students.
In other news, the elementary-school redistricting committee has decided not to move forward with its plans because of the disruptions students and families could face and the minimal benefits of redistricting according to boundaries, race or programs. The board discussed the potential of adjusting policies to offer more flexibility for families who choose an elementary school, in an effort to help balance overcrowding and classroom ratios.
“I think this is the best option,” notef LaCoyya Weathington, assistant superintendent and speaker for the elementary-school redistricting committee. “The new map would make a lot more sense visually than the existing map, but I really don’t think the board or the community or the district gets any great result back from that.”
The middle-school redistricting committee updated its recommendation to have Knight Elementary School students attend Carusi Middle School. They will now go to Rosa Middle School because of the influx of new students in this district this year.
The new configuration for elementary schools will look like this:
- Beck Middle School receives Cooper, Harte, Sharp and Stockton students.
- Carusi Middle School receives Barton, Kilmer, Kingston and Paine students.
- Rosa Middle School receives Johnson, Mann, Woodcrest and Knight students.
The next board of education meeting is Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m.