Students in the WW-P school district have again performed well on state and national tests they took in the 2009-’10 school year, state report cards show.
School officials pointed to even more good news this year: at High School South, students, on average, performed better in the math section of the SAT than any other district in the state.
The state Department of Education released its annual school report cards earlier this month, and school officials presented the findings to the public during the February 8 school board meeting.
Russell Lazovick, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented a series of graphs showing where WW-P students ranked among their peers from third grade through high school, and how they fared with other similar districts.
Out of Mercer County and surrounding areas, as well as districts of similar demographic and economic backgrounds, "WW-P has the highest percentage of students who are passing, and they’re passing with flying colors," said Lazovick.
High School: WW-P’s high school students consistently outperformed students in other districts with similar demographics — measured by the "District Factor Group" category on the report cards. In high school, performance is measured in two ways — the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) and the SAT. The HSPA tests students in math and language arts.
When it comes to the HSPA, students performed better in comparison with the district’s scores in 2008-’09, but they also scored better than high school students at Princeton Regional. When it came to the District Fact Group, they were on par in language arts, and slightly above average in math.
Perhaps the largest difference over last year’s HSPA test scores is in language arts. In 2009-’10, 51 percent of WW-P high school students tested at advanced proficiency, a big improvement over the 27.5 percent who tested advanced in 2008-’09. The number of students that only partially proficient levels dropped from 6.3 percent to 2.6 percent last year. The percentage of students who tested proficient was 46.4 percent, compared with 66.2 percent in 2008-’09.
In Princeton, 45.7 percent of students were proficient, 49 percent were advanced, and 5.3 percent were only partially proficient in 2009-’10.
When it came to math, there was also an increase in advanced proficiency levels (from 62.8 percent to 67.5 percent year-to-year) and a decrease in partially proficiency levels (7.6 percent to 4.8 percent). The percentage of WW-P students who were proficient in math was 27.6.
In Princeton, 26.8 percent of students were proficient, while 62.1 percent were advanced, and 11.2 percent were partially proficient.
When it comes to SATs, students at High School South performed better than those at North, although students at both schools scored higher all around in comparison to the average scores of those in other similar districts.
Lazovick presented graphs showing where WW-P students collectively scored in comparison with every other school in the state. In each category — math, verbal, and essay — WW-P students were among the top five performing districts in the state.
"High School South had the highest average SAT math scores in the state among public schools," said Lazovick.
At High School South, the average score for math was 641 (improvement from 631 the prior year); 597 for verbal (compared with 600 in 2008-’09); and 605 in the essay portion (compared with 604 the prior year). At High School North, the average math scored was 627 (compared with 634 the year before); 590 in verbal (compared with 587 the year before); and 598 for the essay (compared with 595 the year before).
Princeton students scored higher on average than students at both North and South in verbal (611) and essay (614), but scored an average of 635 in math, below South’s average score of 641.
Lazovick said that both high schools’ SAT scores were well above the statewide average scores in all categories, which fall between 490 and 510 in each section.
Within the top eight performing districts around the state when it comes to SAT scores, districts like Tenafly and Millburn are smaller in size than the WW-P district, yet WW-P remains consistently among the highest, said Lazovick. Usually the larger the school district is, the more students score closer to the average. But that isn’t the case in WW-P, he said.
Rest of the District: At the elementary school level, NJASK testing begins in the third grade, where students take the NJASK3 in both language arts and math. Students from grades four through eight are all tested in language arts and math on the NJASK tests, but students in grades four and eight are also tested in science.
For the most part, students maintained high levels of proficiency, and the percentage of students scored at advanced proficiency levels in math slightly spiked in some grade levels. Lazovick pointed to the district’s realignment of its entire math curriculum a year-and-a-half ago. "We were mainly proficient across the board, but we’re always trying to get the kids to the next level, whatever that may be. Hopefully, what you’re seeing is the result of that work."
Third Grade: Mathematics scores remained virtually the same, as the numbers of students testing at partially proficient, proficient, and advanced levels remained within tenths of percentage points from the 2008-’09 school year to last year. In 2009-’10, 6.7 percent of third graders tested only partially proficient, compared with 6 percent the prior year, while 27 percent tested proficient (compared with 28.8 percent in 2008-’09), and 66.3 percent tested at advanced levels (compared with 65.2 percent in 2008-’09).
In language arts, however, there were slightly more noticeable changes. The number of students who tested only partially proficient increased from 8.8 to 14.8 percent in 2009-’10, while the number of students testing at advanced levels dropped to 16.6 percent from 21 percent in 2008-’09. The number of students testing at proficient levels in 2009-’10 was 68.6 percent, a drop from 70.2 percent the prior year.
Fourth Grade. In mathematics, the number of students testing at only partially proficient levels dropped to 8.2 percent from 12 percent in 2008-’09, while the number of advanced students increased from 52 to 64.2 percent in 2009-’10. The number of students testing proficient was 27.7 percent (compared with 36 percent in 2008-’09).
In language arts, the trend was similar, as the number of students testing at advanced proficiency jumped to 26.6 percent from 19.5 percent in 2008-’09, while the percentage of students who were only partially proficient dropped slightly from 16.7 percent to 15.3 percent. Students testing proficient were at 58 percent, down from 63.8 percent the year before.
In science, the numbers were virtually the same. Only 1.2 percent of students tested partially proficient (1.1 percent in 2008-’09); 27 percent tested proficient (27.3 percent in 2008-’09); and 71.8 percent tested at advanced proficiency (71.5 percent in 2009-’09).
Fifth Grade. Mathematics results were similar to the prior year, although the number of students testing at advanced proficiency levels increased from 58 percent in 2008-’09 to 64.2 percent last year. There was a decline in both the percentage of students testing only partially proficient (9.6 percent to 8.8 percent last year) and in the percentage who were proficient (32.4 percent to
27 percent last year).
Numbers also remained consistent in language arts, where 56.6 percent of students tested proficient (compared to 60.9 the prior year), while the percentage of students at advanced level slightly increased to 27.9 from 26.2 in 2008-’09. The number of students tested only at partially proficient levels also increased from 12.9 to 15.4 in 2009-’10.
Sixth Grade. Test scores remained consistent in sixth grade mathematics in 2009-’10, where 38.8 percent of students tested proficient (compared with 40.6 percent in 2008-’09), and 7.5 percent of students tested only partially proficient (compared with 6.8 percent in the prior year). The same was the case with the percentage of advanced proficiency, as 53.7 percent of students tested at that level (compared with 52.6 the prior year).
In language arts, 62.4 percent of students tested proficient (compared with 74.1 percent in 2008-’09), but the number of advanced students saw an increased from 16.6 percent to 25 percent. The number of partially proficient students increased from 9.3 percent in 2008-’09 to 12.6 percent in 2009-’10.
Seventh Grade. In both language arts and mathematics, the test results for the seventh grade remained very consistent. In mathematics, 30.1 percent of students tested proficient (32.3 percent in 2008-’09); 59.4 percent were advanced (55.4 percent the prior year); and 10.4 percent were partially proficient (12.2 percent the prior year).
In language arts, 46.9 percent of students were proficient (45.4 percent in 2008-’09); 45.7 percent were advanced (46 percent the prior year); and 7.5 percent were only partially proficient (8.6 percent the prior year).
Eighth Grade. In the area of mathematics in 2009-’10, 22.7 percent of students tested proficient (31.2 percent the prior year); 65.8 percent tested advanced (61.1 percent the prior year); and 11.5 percent tested only partially proficient.
Language arts score results were better, as the percentage of students who tested advanced rose from 35.3 in 2008-’09 to 48.2 percent in 2009-’10. The number of students testing at proficient levels was 47.8, compared with 61.1 percent in 2008-’09, and 4 percent of students tested only partially proficient, compared with 3.5 percent the prior year.
Science scores were fairly consistent, as 34.2 percent of students tested proficient (compared with 33.7 percent the prior year), and 61.9 percent of students were advanced (62.2 the prior year). Only 3.9 percent of students were partially proficient in science in 2009-’10, compared to 4.2 percent the prior school year.
Other Measures. The state report cards also measure demographic data, including the district’s total comparative cost per pupil, which went up for WW-P last year. In the 2008-’09 school year, the district spent $12,048 per pupil, which increased to $13,045 in 2009-’10, which is below the state average of $13,833. By comparison, Princeton’s total comparative cost per pupil was at $17,421, while Hopewell Valley’s was at $15,067 and Robbinsville’s was at $10,779. Montgomery’s was $11,628.
According to the district’s narrative, included in the state report cards, "the population of the school community reflects the growing trend toward pluralism in American society."
The district reported that in its student body, 51 percent were Asian, 38 percent were white, 6 percent were African American, and 5 percent were Hispanic. "Our students speak 33 languages," the narrative stated. "This diversity affords students excellent opportunities for inter-cultural understanding and provides them with a global view of the world. In order to fulfill the needs of our multicultural communities, we have made every effort to create an awareness of the many ethnic and cultural distinctions represented here. Children are taught the traditions and mores not only of their background but also those of their classmates who come from all corners of the world."