Tuckerton Elementary School Sees Progress on PARCC Test

Sep 27, 2017

Tuckerton School Superintendent Janet Gangemi urged teachers and the public to look at the bigger picture when attempting to interpret PARCC test results as she gave a short presentation on the spring 2017 test results during the Monday, Sept. 25, school board meeting.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test is aligned to the national Common Core Standards: knowledge that every school child should be taught. Yet the test is confined to a group of states rather than the entire nation. It is administered to third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth- graders in Tuckerton Elementary School for both English language arts and math. The grade-specific standardized test also assesses critical thinking in both areas.

Student scores are separated into five levels. The statistic getting the most attention is the number corresponding to “not yet meeting the expected level” for the grade. The four other levels range from improving and approaching grade level expectations to meeting grade level expectations and exceeding grade level.

All students are broken into subgroups, with those with learning disabilities and lower economic benefits competing with children of all ethnicities.

As expected, Asian and Caucasian, advantaged, non-disabled children have the highest scores, with Asian exceeding Caucasian. The entire breakdown of scores can be viewed by each school on the N.J. Department of Education website.

Gangemi had pulled the information for a slide presentation that she went through rather quickly: She had analyzed three years of tests scores, starting from the first year the test was administered in 2014. She asked that people not get mired down in the details.

What was important to note, she said, was that over the three years the numbers of children not meeting grade level in both math and ELA went down – and that’s what administrators and teachers want to see. And the numbers that are meeting or exceeding grade levels were going up: the fifth and sixth grades both saw double-digit increases, with 33 percent meeting or exceeding ELA in fifth grade and 22.5 percent in sixth grade. The most significant increase was that math scores were moving up in all four grades.

“Overall, the numbers are not where we would want them to be, but they are trending up and up,” said the superintendent. “We will be focusing on growth rather than strictly performance, and we’re doing a good job.”

The second important issue of the board meeting was the construction report. Gangemi said the furniture for the main office had arrived and the telephone and security cameras for the office would be hooked up this week.

The unfinished ceilings in the wing that houses offices, the faculty room and the tech lab were holding up the certificate of occupancy for that section of the school. Custodial Administrator Brian Mathis said they were to be completed and the certificate of occupancy granted next week.

The STEAM lab (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and tech lab were completed and furniture was ordered.

Outside playground equipment was not yet installed due to a scheduling glitch for the installation of the concrete footing. Gangemi said she was sorry that happened but that work, too, should be done this coming week.

“The students had the use of the field and the basketball court, so they were not inside,” she said.

“The HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) contractor did not install enough temporary air conditioners,” she continued. “Of course, we had a heat wave. The temperatures in the fourth and fifth grades and main offices were not adequate. So what we are doing is running them at night so that we don’t have an issue with moisture in the building.”

Another meeting with the contractor and architect is scheduled for Oct. 9, said Gangemi.

Board of Education President Trisha Horner asked what the hold-up was with the HVAC. Mathis said the contract schedule deadline was for Sept. 1.

“And it’s the 25th,” said Horner.

Otherwise, the opening of the school for the 2017-18 year was a good one. The board also approved numerous extracurricular events. In one, the fifth and sixth grades will attend a field trip to participate in a rap poetry event as part of the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015) grant for arts integration into the curriculum.

The Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. will be visiting the school on Oct. 10 with a rescue truck and fire engine for Fire Prevention Week. The sixth grade will host a pasta dinner fundraiser on Oct. 25 from 1 to 8 p.m., and an age-appropriate assembly program for all grades, “Steered Straight,” from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, is on Oct. 23.

The board approved the PTA’s schedule of events throughout the year, starting with a cookie dough fundraiser for October and November, and a paint party on Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The PTA meeting dates are the first Tuesday of each month, alternating between day and evening times.

The board revised and adopted the school mission statement: “The Mission of the Tuckerton Elementary School, in cooperation with our community, is to provide a safe and nurturing environment. We will empower our students with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to think critically, respect others and themselves, and achieve the New Jersey Learning Standards at all grade levels.”

Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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