Middle pleased with test results

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Students did better on state exams this year compared to dozens of other school districts.

The state Department of Education recently released results of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge. Each spring, students in third through eighth grades take the exams, which cover mathematics and language arts literacy. Some grades also test in science.

“We have outstanding teachers. We have a very solid, aligned curriculum,” said Lyn Langford, director of district’s curriculum and instruction.

For the most part, Middle performed above average on the tests compared to dozens of other districts in its group. Districts are ranked according to census data, such as poverty, unemployment and income.

Middle Township’s third-graders who took the math and language arts literacy assessments did, however, score below the group’s average.

Although the district came away with good results, Langford said the state standardized testing is a worry.

“I’m always concerned about student progress,” she said.

The district regularly focuses on individual student test results and determines if students need extra help, Langford said.

Special education and economic disadvantaged student scores have “remained relatively steady,” she said.

For example, 40.8 percent of economically disadvantaged third-graders taking math received proficient or advanced; last year that was 35.5 percent, according to information provided by the school district. There were 24.2 percent of special education students who scored proficient or advanced in math compared to 23.5 percent in 2011.

In fifth grade, 29.4 percent special education students scored proficient or advanced in this year’s language arts literacy examine and 36.6 percent the year before. For economically disadvantaged students, 38.3 percent received proficient or advanced with 51.4 percent last year.

With eighth grade, 56.1 percent of economically disadvantaged students scored proficient or advanced and 53.2 percent the previous year. There were 83.6 percent of special education students who received proficient or advanced in 2012 and 84.4 in 2011.

Langford also attributes the district’s good exam results to the Board of Education bringing in a consultant that helped with test preparation. Standards Solution was hired for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, under several contracts.

The company was paid partly through the Title 1 program, which is federal government money given to schools with a high number or percentage of low-income families.

The district also has elementary literacy coaches, she said, which she also credits to the students’ success on the state exams.

“We know what our job is, and we do it very well,” Langford said.

Starting in spring 2015, she said students will take a new test called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The assessment will include more vocabulary, among other changes, Langford said.

The new assessments will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which ensures students learn consistently from school to school and state to state, she said.

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