HomeHaddonfield NewsNew Haddonfield report card standards will go to a vote

New Haddonfield report card standards will go to a vote

District also receives update on new math program at elementary level

The Haddonfield board of education received updates on new elementary-school, standard-based report cards that will be voted on later this month; heard results of the elementary math pilot program; and approved a district budget for the 2024-’25 school year, all at its last meeting in April.

“While our current report cards were useful, we wanted to improve consistency,” explained Shannon Simkus, principal of Central Elementary School. “In addition, parents often needed clarification about the previous system because it’s not an ABC grading system, it’s a 1-2-3 system.”

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One is for developing proficiency, 2 means a student is approaching the standard, 3 means the student has met the standard and E means exceedingd the standard. Simkus and Gerry Bissinger, principal of Elizabeth Haddon Elementary, explained why the ranking went from 4 to an E.

“When we had it 1 to 4, you were expected to get the 4, but E is exceeding expectations,” said Simkus. “We don’t expect the students to be there, we expect them to be meeting the targets by the end of the school year.”

Progress toward standards does not include factors like student effort, participation, work habits or soft skills; those are included in a separate report card section called 21st Century Skills.

A blank template of the report cards is expected to be shared with parents this summer, with a parent presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Haddonfield Middle School auditorium. The vote will be finalized during a May board of education meeting.

Math Content Area Supervisor Matthew DiDonato updated the K-5 math pilot and said the district has chosen i-Ready Classroom Mathematics as its new math curriculum. The program includes resources for parents, progress checks and homework with access to solutions. From student survey results, DiDonato found that 97% of i-Ready students said they speak up in class and share their ideas almost always or often.

“That’s not what math looked like when I was in school,” DiDonato revealed. “It’s the same thing I see in the classrooms. You can walk into a classroom and you’re just so surprised by the maturity by which students are speaking about math.

“I was completely blown away consistently when I was in these rooms.”

The math program also has an online component that 93% of students said has helped improve their math skills. It is expected to be fully implemented – with ongoing training and support – starting in September and through June 2025, with teacher training this May and August.

The program will cost $67,500 annually for its classroom and personalized instruction, as well as an initial $19,800 for professional training. DiDonato added that the district would save just over $23,000 because it would no longer use the math programs IXL or Reflex, which would overlap with the i-Ready materials.

The board has approved a district budget with a proposed tax levy for the 2024-’25 school year of $41,030,625, a $1,148,602 increase over last year. For every $100,000 in assessed home value, Haddonfield residents will pay approximately $1,833 in property taxes to support the schools. The total tax rate for this year is 0.018331, a 1.55% increase from last year.

“You may be thinking, you just told me the tax increase on the levy is 2.88%, but the general fund increase percentage is 1.85%,” said board member Michael Catalano. “How is that? That’s because the tax levy isn’t the only thing changing. The valuations of the municipality increased, so naturally, the effective tax rate doesn’t go up at the same rate that you are raising the tax levy.”

A full budget hearing is available on the district’s YouTube channel.

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