Some local school districts saw improvements in the latest round of state standardized testing, but many students still do not meet proficiency, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Education.
Students throughout the state took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test in the spring. The test, administered in grades 3 through 11, is in its third year and remains controversial.
The NJDOE this year released a comparison of proficiency levels in each grade and subject since the start of PARCC testing. The department said the three years of data will be useful in determining trends, where more students are meeting expectations for a particular subject or grade level.
Statewide results released in September show students demonstrated considerable improvement in both the English and math portions of the test. According to the results from the DOE, more than 88,000 more students met or exceeded expectations across all grade levels in English language arts, and nearly 70,000 more students met or exceeded expectations across all grade levels in math.
Still, most students in every grade who took the math test were below proficiency, and fewer than 60 percent of students in every grade level met or exceeded expectations in English. Tests are scored from 1 through 5, with a 4 considered proficient, or passing.
Locally, third- and fourth-graders in Port Republic showed significant improvement over previous years’ results. Ninety-five percent of third-graders last spring met or exceeded expectations on both the math and English portions, and all fourth-graders met or exceeded expectations in the math portion.
Additionally, 100 percent of eighth-graders in Margate met or exceeded expectations on the English portion.
For the past two years, all Upper Township and Margate students taking the Algebra 1 portion of the PARCC test met or exceeded expectations. Upper Township has had a 28.6 percent improvement over 2015, when 71 percent were proficient or above.
While the test is mandatory for students in third through eighth grade, PARCC remains optional for New Jersey high schoolers, although it is set to become a high school graduation requirement in 2021. That requirement is being challenged in court.
Egg Harbor Township, Lower Cape May Regional and Ocean City saw the greatest improvements in three years on the 10th-grade English test, with Ocean City achieving the largest growth in proficiency. Meanwhile, students in Hammonton and Ocean County Vocational had the highest level of proficiency, at 57 percent and 78 percent, respectively, in the 10th-grade English test.
Eleventh-graders taking the English test fared the best in Pinelands Regional, Hammonton and Ocean County Vocational. In Hammonton, the district saw a marked improvement from 2015, up 32 percent for proficient or above.
Students in Pleasantville, Bridgeton and Atlantic City had among the lowest passing rates on the ninth-grade English test. On the 10th-grade English test, Pleasantville had only a 4.4 percent passing rate, followed by, Bridgeton, Middle Township and Wildwood at 14, 16 and 16 percent passing, respectively.
Southern Regional, Atlantic City and Wildwood had less than 20 percent proficiency on the 11th-grade English test.
The PARCC geometry test seems to stump a majority of high school students in the region, as proficiency remains below 40 percent almost across the board. The outlier in the statistics is Cumberland County Vocational, which had a 70 percent proficient or above rate.
The Department of Education uses PARCC scores as an indicator for college and career readiness in its annual school report cards.