Berkeley Heights Board of Education Reviews Governor Livingston Student Achievement
Friday, June 29, 2012 • 7:06am
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Board of Education received an in depth analysis of Governor Livingston student achievement as measured by test scores at its meeting on Thursday, June 28. Assistant Superintendent Patricia Qualshie said educators are optimistic about the trend.
Using test scores from the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), given when students are juniors, and the SATs for the same group of students when they became seniors, was enlightening. The school’s results were compared to other surrounding schools in the same district factor group, I, which largely indicates socio-economic
factors, and the highest DFG, J.
Juniors who scored 95.8 percent proficient and 18.9 percent advanced proficient in language arts in 2008, as seniors scored 566 in critical reading and 560 in writing in the 2009 SATs. For math, scores were total proficiency 95.5 percent and 45.5 percent advanced proficient in the HSPA and 591 on the SATs.
The trend headed downward for advanced proficiency over the next two years, but the HSPA scores for juniors in 2011 surged to 98.4 percent proficient in language arts and 42.8 percent advanced proficient. In math the scores were 95.4 percent proficient and 47.5 percent advanced proficient. Scores for the SATs are a year behind so are not yet available for the incoming seniors.
Comparison to other school districts in District Factor Groups I and J for the 2011 HSPA in language arts put Governor Livingston at 42.8 percent advanced proficient in a range that went from 38.6 percent to 53.9 percent. For total proficiency GL scored toward the top at 98.4 percent with the range running from 96.5 percent to 100 percent. Districts in the comparison were Chatham, Millburn, Madison Westfield, Ridge, Livingston, New Providence, Summit and Watchung Hills.
Using the same district comparisons for the math scores, GL came in toward the lower end at 47.8 percent advanced proficient in a range of 37.8 percent to 69.4 percent; and at the top of the list at 95.3 percent proficient in a range that went from 86 percent to the 95.3 percent.
Qualshie said “work in progress” to improve scores included more differentiated instruction targeting all learning styles; use of formative assessment taking an inventory of student needs; project based learning having students apply the concepts they have learned; rubric design – letting students know what is expected and how to achieve the grade they want from the minimum score on up; applying understanding by design, which includes all of the preceding factors; technology – Qualshie noted the school’s band width was increased on Monday – and by applying
common benchmark assessments.
She said there is “more to do” by collaborating with other districts and surveying what they do. This will be accomplished by Berkeley Heights administrators over the summer.
The goal of all this analysis is to “increase student achievement as measured by student performance on standardized test scores; ensure students are learning and able to apply and demonstrate their knowledge; and ensure students are prepared for college or a career after high school,” Qualshie said.
“I’m hoping to find something that’s a silver bullet,” she quipped. “I don’t know if there is one out there… We have to change the way people are accustomed to doing things.”
Superintendent Judith Rattner added, “We’re looking at scores, but they are the scores of different students.”
In other business:
• Rattner presented a strategic plan with the most important goals to be achieved in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.
“I want to make sure we’re all on the same page and we’re focusing this year on the first set of goals. Once these goals have been okayed by the board, we’ll establish a timeline and an evaluation plan.”
The goals were adopted unanimously with board members Denis Smalley and Dr. Gerard Crisonino absent.
The strategic plan will be posted to the school’s website and each goal’s status will be updated regularly by administrators.
Factors considered for 2012-13 are in the categories of instruction, support services, curriculum, resources, communications and student life.
Three senior representatives of student government presented a plan for student parking at Governor Livingston High School. Last year there were several small accidents in the parking lot and insufficient space for both juniors and seniors to park.
• Ron Jordan, Kerri Paliwoda and Olivia Labau suggested parking privileges be given only to seniors and that they be assigned by lottery. Each senior who is given privileges would have an assigned spot for $10 per year. Any extra
spaces would be assigned to juniors, also via a lottery, for $20.
The school board was receptive to the idea, but board member Paul Beisser made a few suggestions for the students to consider. He said the fee is too low; there should be a system that would allow a student to drive to school
under special circumstances even if s/he does not have an assigned space; prohibit transfer of permits; and for students who are shut out of an assigned space, open campus -- the ability to leave school during the day -- should still be an option.
Board Member Doug Reinstein suggested something should be worked out so that a student who has a birthday toward the end of the school year and is unable to drive, does not take a space that would be empty for most of the
year, when some other student could be parking there.
Rattner said there will be 276 seniors this year and 236 parking spaces. She noted Scott McKinney, principal of Governor Livingston, is in favor of the proposal.
Students will work out the details during the summer.