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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Middle Township School District Cites ‘High Performing’ Status

By Press Release

COURT HOUSE – A state school report card that gathers raw data into bare-bones ratings misses the meat of the story, according to Middle Township Public Schools (MTPS) in a release. That broad and simplistic way to present information fails to provide an accurate picture.
The New Jersey School Performance Reports, released last week, rely on data that is gathered from numerous sources and presented in one-size-fits-all fashion, the release states.
“The MTPS report shows we are committed to addressing the needs of all our students, but that’s hard to tell from the grids full of mere numbers,” stated Superintendent David J. Salvo, Ed.D.
“Our graduation rates, for instance, reveal our determination to help students succeed in life no matter their educational challenges, and no matter the traditional four-year deadline.”
The report noted the MTPS graduation rate at 80.5 percent for the Class of 2018, compared to a state average of 90.9 percent.
Behind the statistic are stories of numerous students ages 18 to 21 who are in a state-mandated program that extends their high school experience due to special needs. They aren’t reported as graduates as they learn the life skills and career-based training that will prepare them for future success.
Additionally, MTPS is not as large as other districts in the state, but still subject to the one-size-fits-all school report card.
“The Class of 2018 had 161 students,” Salvo said. “Just five struggling students can swing our statistics by 8 percentage points.”
About two-thirds of the school report card is weighted from rates of graduation and absenteeism, while just one third is based on math and English test scores. MTPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction Toni Lehman, Ed.D., said it stands in sharp contrast to other evaluations like the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) that is commonly spoken as Q-SAC.
“The school report card is issued by the same Department of Education that recently certified MTPS as a High Performing School District according to QSAC standards,” Lehman stated . “That more personalized, very comprehensive review involves deep examination and on-site evaluation.”
MTPS scored 100 percent on QSAC ratings for fiscal management, governance, operations and personnel. It scored 82 percent for meeting Instruction and Program goals. With all indicators above the 80-percent mark, MTPS was deemed a High Performing School District.
Measures that went into the QSAC Instruction and Program review included the progress students made in math and English.
Skilled readers of the school report card could piece together the same information by digging past the summary and into the details. They show that at Middle Township Middle School, student growth showed 54.5 percent advancement in English and 44 percent in math; both exceed the state standard.
The school report card does identify some data that was a concern even before the report’s release.
Chronic absenteeism among the high school population was higher than the state average by about 7 percentage points. While that doesn’t involve a large number of students, MTPS is taking a proactive approach to helping students complete their education.
The district was awarded a state grant under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) to develop a summertime program that will allow rising juniors and seniors the opportunity to complete academic credits.
“We will work with students who hit some bumps in the road during their high school careers,” Lehman stated. “Our goal is to guide them back on track for timely graduation, which ultimately will benefit not only those individuals but the community as a whole.”
Other data points deep in the state report card included:
* Elementary School No. 2 students showed strong achievement. Growth from one year to the next met the state standard for English and exceeded the state standard by 11 percentage points for math.
MTPS encourages all 10th and 11th graders to take the PSAT, a standardized test that can help them prepare for the college-entrance SAT. The Class of 2018 had 96.8 percent participation, compared to the state average of 85 percent.
* Average ACT scores from high school students were above the state benchmarks for reading and English by 8 and 5 percentage points, respectively. Average ACT scores for math and science were just 1 percentage point short of the state benchmark.
Report card data includes plenty of great information that isn’t part of score calculations.
For instance, MTPS offered its high school students 16 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and 19 percent of students took at least one of them.
Both summary statistics and detailed data for all schools are available at the Department of Education’s website.

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