• December 14, 2019

Mixed bag for standardized test scores in Northfield - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Mixed bag for standardized test scores in Northfield

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 4:13 pm

NORTHFIELD — The Northfield Board of Education got a rundown of the spring 2019 test scores during a meeting Monday, Oct. 28.

Janice Dye, director of curriculum and instruction, opened with the NJSLA scores. The test has a five-level scoring system, with levels 4 and 5 considered passing in New Jersey. 

For the English Language Arts/Literacy assessment of the NJSLA, most of Northfield’s third- to eighth-grade students tested had lower percentages of Level 1 and Level 2 scores than the state average, while some grades had a higher percentage of Level 4 and 5 scores.  

In third grade, 47.5 percent of students scored a Level 4, compared with 42.8 percent of the state, and 4 percent of students scored a Level 5, compared with 7.4 percent statewide. 

For third grade, 24.8 percent of students scored a Level 3, compared with 21.3 percent statewide; 8.9 percent scored a Level 2, compared with 14.4 percent statewide, and 14.9 percent scored a Level 1, compared with 14 percent statewide. 

In grades four to eight, the school district had a lower percentage of Level 1s than the state average, and in grades five and seven, the school district had a lower percentage of Level 2s than the state. 

The district’s fourth-grade students scored a higher percentage of Levels 4s than the state, as did the seventh-grade, and the fifth-grade had a higher percentage of Level 5s than the state average. 

With the NJSLA, the school district can track how students perform as they progress through the grades. 

Current eighth-grade students, who were in fourth grade in 2015, saw a 23.7 increase in passing English/Language Arts scores from 2015 to 2018 but had a nearly 10 percent decrease from seventh grade to eighth grade. 

The district’s current seventh-graders also saw growth in the past few years, improving by 9 percent from 2018 to 2019. 

The current sixth-grade class saw a decrease, from 47.3 percent in 2018 to 39.4 percent in 2019. 

The test changes each year.  In 2015, students took the PARCC assessment and the state later switched to the NJSLA.

In 2015, there was a high rate of refusal and more students took the test throughout the years. 

In math, 100 more students took the test in 2019 than in 2015. 

Dye also reviewed what the district is currently doing in English/Language Arts and what it plans to do. 

The district implemented literature circles for fourth- to eighth-graders, adopted a new English/Language Arts program for seventh-graders and is looking to adopt a new English/Language Arts program for grades third to fifth and grade eight.

The school district also implemented Houghton Mifflin’s Collections for grade seven and is in the second year of this program for sixth grade. The district is in the fourth year of implementing the Scholastics Traits Writing program for third to fifth grades and grade eight. 

Dye said that last year they met with the administration and she met with English/Language Arts teachers to discuss the non-negotiable standards. 

“What are the standards students must have mastered to be able to be successful in the next year, and we’re providing professional development that focuses on differentiating instruction. We’re having a coach really go into the classroom and work with the class in their groups,” she said. 

The district is also developing a new standards-based report card. 

Students performed slightly better on the spring 2019 mathematics assessment. 

Northfield’s three, fifth, and seventh-grade students, and students who took Algebra, outperformed the state in the percentage of students scoring a Level 5. 

The district also had students in grades five, six, seventh, and students who took Algebra, had a higher percentage of students scoring a Level 4 than the state average. 

The district had a lower percentage of students scoring a Level 1 in grades three to seven and Algebra and had a lower percentage of students scoring a Level 2 in grades four to eight and Algebra. 

Over the last few years, some math scores were inconsistent. 

Students who are currently in eighth grade, and who were in fourth grade in 2015, saw a 15 percent growth from 2015 to 2018 but saw a large decrease from 2018 to 2019.  In 2019, 14.8 percent of eighth-graders passed and in 2018, 56 percent of seventh-graders passed. 

The district’s current seventh-graders decreased over time, from 62 percent passing in 2017 to 58 percent passing in 2018 to 50 percent passing in 2019. 

The district’s current sixth-graders saw a decrease from 2016 to 2018 but increased two percent from 2018 to 2019. 

Current fourth-grade students’ scores decreased eight percent from 2018 to 2019 and current fifth-graders scores decreased from 63.8 percent passing to 48.9 percent passing from 2017 to 2018 but increased to 55.3 percent passing for 2019. 

Dye said their Algebra scores are always 50 percent higher than the state’s which she said they feel good about. 

For math, the school district continues to use the GoMath program for students in kindergarten to fourth grades and using IXL online practice, working with the Big Ideas program for grades five to seven, continue to offer personal development, they have increased their participation in accelerated math classes and in Algebra, and they are working to develop a standards-based report card, among other strategies. 

Dye said that IXL has a great diagnostic tool that can point out what standards a child needs help with.  

Last year, the district brought in a math coach for the middle school and this year, they brought someone who came into the classroom to do demo lessons for sixth to eighth grades. 

Dye said they are going to bring this coach back. 

“We figured if we go from eight down to K (kindergarten), we’ll be better able to expose our gaps,” she said. 

She also reported on the district’s ACCESS scores, for a test that is given to English language learners. 

The test evaluates listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  This test is given to students every year in the spring. 

Dye said the test data will cause them to look into their practices, look at growth and seek reasons why they are doing well and how they can do better. 

Improvement strategies include differentiating instruction, using data-driven instruction to increase efficiency, using MAP testing and MAP skills to individualize instruction, having common planning time, infusing technology, and providing teachers with professional development. 

She said they are also paying attention to social and emotional learning, as well as differentiating instruction.

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