SP-F BOE Looks at Data From Recent Testing

For Union County HAWK

SCOTCH PLAINS — Testing scores and finances were the main areas of focus at the November 17 meeting of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education.

Robert McGarry, assistant superintendent, presented the 2021-2022 State Assessment Report that included results from New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA), Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) and English Language Proficiency Testing.

Mr. McGarry explained that the DLM is “administered to students in the state with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) designate the state’s alternate assessment as the most appropriate academic assessment.” While most students were in the emerging category for math and science, the majority were in the target category for English Language Arts (ELA). He also explained that the data from this is used for curricular decisions, instructional feedback, and as more data to monitor a student’s progress and growth.

Mr. McGarry then moved on to the data from the English Language Proficiency testing, which is “administered to Kindergarten through 12th-grade students who have been identified as English Language learners.” Eighty students took the test. Of those, 19 received a score of 4.5 or higher (on a scale from 1 to 6), meaning they can exit the program. Mr. McGarry added that this data also is used to identify proficiency levels to inform instruction for the English as a Second Language program.

He then moved on to the NJSLA results. Overall, students were above the state average when it came to meeting/exceeding expectations, Mr. McGarry said. Mr. McGarry added that there was a trend of more students scoring in the “approaching grade level expectations” but also said students had not taken the exam in two years.

Going forward, Mr. McGarry said, the data gathered from the testing scores will aid in the creation of professional development opportunities for teachers and will serve as the basis for collaborative research to determine the best way to connect students to math.

Mr. McGarry ended his presentation saying, “Behind every data point is a child” and noted that while the data is important, it does not give the whole picture.

Kathi Mantell, a partner at Nisivoccia, an accounting firm, presented her audit findings to the board. Ms. Mantell started off by saying it was another good audit and reminded the board not to take that lightly, since that is not the case everywhere. She reported that there was now $4.7 million in capital reserve, and while the pandemic did hurt the district’s budget, it was not a bad result. She added that she had no audit recommendations.

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