State report cards show one ‘metric’

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The release of the New Jersey Department of Education report cards for the 2013-14 school year marks a transition now that the state has adopted the new PARCC online testing this year. However, performance last year still is being looked at with a careful eye.

In the 2013-14 school year, 66 percent of students statewide passed the NJASK tests for elementary and middle schools and the HSPA for high school students.

The main message from the state was that the relatively static scores over the past few years are actually positive signs, given New Jersey has been moving to the new Common Core State Standards, noted Assistant Commissioner of Education Bari Erlichson.

“It is hard to celebrate a flat outcome, but it is in fact a pretty good outcome,” she added, pointing out there was “sure to be a drop in passing grades under the PARCC testing,” enough so that next year the state will not be doing a year-to-year comparison as it sets a new benchmark.

The NJDOE said testing data from last year was collected and reviewed to provide a more complete picture of a school’s performance with the goal of all stakeholders engaging in making improvements where needed.

Schools were grouped with approximately 30 other similar schools in a peer grouping, or students having the same or similar grade configuration and students with similar demographic characteristics. For example, a school in an urban community would be grouped with other urban schools with similar makeup and likewise with suburban schools.

Although the state provided report-card data for elementary and middle schools, due to the large number of schools in each district countywide, LocalSource will only be concentrating on results for high schools in Union County.

This is the fourth and last in a series, with schools in Summit, Roselle Park, Mountainside and Berkeley Heights the focus.
Summit
With 1,192 students enrolled at Summit Senior High School, this high school noted it is consistently rated “superior” academically, but also highly rated for its music, art, athletics and other programs that celebrate diversity, according to the narrative provided to the state by the district.

In the 2013-14 school year, the school narrative noted, this school was ranked high by state and nationwide publications, including Newsweek, US News and World Report and The Washington Post. The school district pointed out that 94 percent of students in the 2014 graduating class went on to continue their education at either a four- or two-year college. Of that, 267 were attending 138 different educational institutions.

In addition, when all tests for the 2013-14 school year were tallied, this high school’s academic performance was high when compared to schools across the state and very high when compared to its peer grouping. Some of the peer grouping municipalities were Springfield, Kenilworth, Toms River, Saddlebrook, Edison, Monroe, Red Bank and East Brunswick.

Academic achievement measures the knowledge students have in language arts literacy and math. Summit Senior High School academically outperformed 72 percent of schools statewide and 91 percent of schools in their peer grouping.
Likewise, these students also scored high when it came to college and career readiness. This measures the degree in which students demonstrate behaviors that indicate they will have success in college or in a career.

For example, this high school’s college and career readiness was deemed high, outperforming 78 percent of schools statewide and 86 percent of schools in its peer grouping.

Figuring significantly into college and career readiness is how well students do on the SAT’s. Approximately 83.6 percent of Summit Senior High School students participated in this testing compared to the peer average of 75.7 percent and the statewide average of 76.2 percent. Students also did well when it came to scoring over 1,550, with 69.8 percent of students scoring above that number on the SAT’s, compared to 41.5 percent of its peer grouping and 44.6 percent statewide.

The average SAT score for students taking the test was 1,758, compared to 1,525 for its peer grouping and 1,514 statewide.
Summit Senior High School graduation and post-secondary performance was also high, outperforming 63 percent of schools across the state and 65 percent of schools in its peer grouping.

For instance, in 2014, this high school had a 96 percent four-year graduation rate, which was consistent with the prior year, and actually higher than 2012 when the rate was 95 percent.
Berkeley Heights and Mountainside
Governor Livingston High School serves students from both Mountainside and Berkeley Heights, boasting an enrollment in the 2013-14 school year of 1,000 students, down from the 2011-12 school year when it was 1,059.

According to its narrative, which school districts submit to the state, students have an impressive record of academic achievement in the classroom, which has been recognized by numerous publications as a “top high school.”

The school also pointed out that 95 percent of students in this particular school year went on to pursue a post-secondary education, with some of them at Bucknell, Princeton, Columbia and Duke universities, among others.

The school district also noted that Governor Livingston High School continues to provide all students with opportunities to succeed in “an ever-changing world.”

This high school was grouped with peer schools in municipalities such as Westfield, Watchung Hills, Mountain Lakes, Glen Ridge, Ridgewood and Livingston and was about average academically when compared to its peer schools, outperforming 50 percent of schools. However, statewide this high school’s academic performance was very high when compared to schools across the state, outperforming 78 percent of schools.

When it came to college and career readiness, this high school was about average when compared to its peers, outperforming 50 percent of schools in its peer grouping, but statewide was rated high because it outperformed 76 percent of schools statewide.

Participation in the SAT’s was high, with 94 percent of students taking part in this testing, compared to 90.1 percent of its peer grouping and 76.2 percent of students statewide.

Approximately 62.8 percent of students scored above 1,550 on the SAT’s compared to its peer average of 67.6 percent and the statewide average of 44.6 percent. The average SAT score for students at this high school was 1,657, compared to 1,685 for its peer grouping and 1,514 statewide.

This school’s graduation and post-secondary performance was very high, with students outperforming 96 percent of schools statewide and 94 percent of schools in its peer grouping.

The 2014 four-year graduation rate was 99 percent, compared to 2013 when the rate was 97 percent and 2012 when it was 96 percent.
Roselle Park
Roselle Park High School had an enrollment of 584 students in the 2013-14 school year, with peer grouping towns including Union, Manchester, North Bergen, Hackensack Edison, Woodbridge, Brick and Hoboken, among others.
This high school’s narrative explained there are many educational avenues for students to explore, including the school affiliation with Union County Vocational Technical High School on a shared time basis.

This school was also vocal about having a fully equipped television studio where students can produce, direct, edit and write daily programs, in addition to offering a S.T.E.M program of science, technology, engineering and math for a select number of students meeting strict application guidelines.

When it came to academic performance this high school was about average, outperforming 43 percent of schools across the state.

However, compared to its peers, academic performance was high, with students outperforming 70 percent of those being educated with similar demographics.

This high school’s college and career readiness was about average, outperforming 43 percent of schools statewide and 45 percent in its peer grouping.

When it came to the SAT’s, 72.3 percent of students at this high school participated, compared to 71.2 percent in the peer grouping and 76.2 percent statewide. Of the students taking this test, 20.4 percent scored higher than 1,550, compared to the peer average of 31.4 percent and the statewide average of 44.6 percent.

The average SAT score for students at Roselle Park High School was 1,386, compared to the peer grouping average of 1,426 and statewide percentage of 1,514.

This high school graduation and post-secondary performance was very high when compared to its peers, outperforming 86 percent of schools educating students with similar demographics and 97 percent of those across the state.

In 2014 this high school had a four-year graduation rate of 96 percent, compared to 2012 and 2013 when that number was 94 percent.