Tuesday night, Cedar Grove principals told the board of education the district must improve the way they teach certain math and language arts skills if the district is to improve on state-mandated proficiency tests.
Principals Tracy Dyer of North End Elementary, Brian Cavanagh of South End Elementary, Rick Mangili of Memorial Middle School and Michael Fetherman of Cedar Grove High School made a presentation for the board on how the district can improve in certain areas of both the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK) and High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).
The principal’s analysis found there is room for improvement for the district’s students in working with text, analyzing text and writing in the Language Arts and Literacy category.
The principals said in order to improve student test scores, the district should concentrate on incorporating open-ended questions in more areas and different classes, not just in language arts.
It is also important to use consistent terminology so that students will be more familiar with the language on state tests, said Cavanagh.
The analysis also showed:
- The district needs to focus in math and science – including number and numerical operations, as well as problem solving.
- In the higher grades, additional areas the district must give extra consideration include geometry and measurement, patterns and algebra as well as data analysis.
- District Grade 7 NJASK scores were only 56.8 percent proficient.
“Each year it seems the (assessment) presentation gets more informative and more in depth,” said Cedar Grove Board of Education President Frank Mandala. “This year we are above the state average in many areas. I only see us getting better and stronger from here.”
“There's no pattern when you look at the other grades,” he said, adding the 6th- and 8th-grade math scores did not drop.
David Coster, supervisor of math and science, said this is not specific to Cedar Grove but part of a statewide trend.
“If you look into some of the state data, the last two years scored their lowest proficiency math levels in seventh grade,” Coster said.
To help improve math scores, the math departments will hold monthly coordination meetings to discuss student progress in each grade and ways to improve. The group will use differentiated instruction to identify how individual students learn best and teach accordingly.
“It's great to know that all the things the administration has put in place are all coming together now,” said Mandala.
NJASK Language Arts and Literacy Proficiency:
Grade 3 North End School – 90.7%
Grade 3 South End School – 79.4%
Grade 4 North End School – 86.2%
Grade 4 South End School – 63.8%
Grade 5 Memorial Middle School – 73.5%
Grade 6 Memorial Middle School – 79%
Grade 7 Memorial Middle School – 71%
Grade 8 Memorial Middle School - 93%
NJASK Mathematics Proficiency:
Grade 3 North End School – 92.2%
Grade 3 South End School – 86.8%
Grade 4 North End School – 93.1%
Grade 4 South End School – 80.9%
Grade 5 Memorial Middle School – 92.8%
Grade 6 Memorial Middle School – 88.1%
Grade 7 Memorial Middle School – 56.8%
Grade 8 Memorial Middle School – 85.1%
NJASK Science Proficiency:
Grade 4 North End School – 100%
Grade 4 South End School – 94.2%
Grade 8 Memorial Middle School – 92.1%
HSPA Language Arts and Literacy Proficiency:
Cedar Grove High School – 96.7%
Cedar Grove High School - 89%