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Mixed Bag Of Results In School District Achievement Statistics

Assistant Superintendent Dan Loughran talks about student achievement at the Oct. 17 Board of Education meeting.

Student achievement is on the uptick in literacy, while math skills still need to be improved, the Board of Education was told at its Oct. 17 meeting.

Dan Loughran, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told the board that assessment tests showed that more students in grades 3-10 are working above their grade levels in English language arts than are in mathematics.

Loughran also told the board that the number of Franklin High School students enrolled in AP courses has increased over the last three school years.

“We believe that is going to continue the achievement culture of our school in a positive, significant way,” Loughran told the board. “We’re just really encouraged about the number of students taking it.”

Loughran also said he was encouraged by the racial mix of students in the AP courses.

The achievement statistics were culled from results of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments for English Language Arts and for Mathematics (NJSLA), and the Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests administered annually.

The results showed that the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations for their grade levels in English language arts in grades 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 increased from 2017 to 2019.

The percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations for their grade levels in math in grades 3 and 4, and those students taking geometry, also increased from 2017 to 2019, according to Loughran’s statistics.

One high point noted by Loughran was that about 61 percent of high school sophomores are working at or above their grade level in literacy, higher than the state average of 59 percent.

“This is the first time in 20 years that our students have had a higher average than the state in literacy,” he said.

The results also showed that the percentage of students in grades 3-10 performing below their grade level decreased from 2017 to 2019.

“We do better the more time the students spend with our teachers because they do a great job,” Loughran said. “We make sure we’re addressing the needs of all of our learners, and we help them grow throughout the year.”

Loughran also outlined the steps the district is taking to further improve on the student achievement results.

For math, he said, the district will continue to focus on K-2 foundational skills, pilot new math textbooks for grades 3-5 to be used in the next school year, and connect elementary level math to middle school-level math, among other things.

In literacy, the district will use more writing assignments that mimic NJSLA assessments, build teachers’ “assessment literacy,” and reinforce NJSLA standards, among other things.

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