Results from state tests for fourth graders - new tests instituted two years ago - show a marked improvement, although the language arts scores were reevaluated by the state, said Clarendon School Principal Ralph Merlo.
Merlo said the state re-scored the grades after revising the evaluation method. The original results in the language arts area for the May 1999 test showed that the 55 percent of Secaucus fourth graders reached acceptable or advanced levels. After the test was re-scored, that figure rose to 72 percent.
Results from the May 2000 test, however, were not so heartening.
They showed that only 57 percent of fourth graders scored at acceptable levels or above.
In mathematics, fourth graders did much better, scoring at 78 percent acceptable or above. In science, fourth graders did better still, scoring at 91 percent.
Students taking the state's eighth grade tests showed good scores in all areas, said Middle School Principal Fred Ponti. In language arts, nearly 95 percent of students passed or exceeded minimum state standards. For mathematics, the 85 percent of eighth grade students passed the benchmark of a score of 80 percent or better. In science, 91 percent of eighth grade students passed.
State tests last year for 11th graders - which students must pass to graduate - showed that nearly 88 percent of the school's 11th graders passed last year. Because the test is so critical, students who fail are allowed to retake the test later. This reduced the number of failing students significantly, according to High School Principal Pat Impreveduto.
Impreveduto said the school district has instituted programs to identify and tutor students before testing takes place to give them a better chance of passing. Although initially instituted as a voluntary program for students, last year the schools made it a requirement for juniors at risk to take the tutoring and continue with the extra help until teachers deem these students at an acceptable level.
Last year's achievements
In addition to reporting the result of test scores, school administrative personnel talked about the goals achieved last year and the goals proposed to the current school year in individual school classes. Educational goals are set for various grades to focus on particular areas of concern and to show results of the efforts made over the course of a school year.
Merlo said 87 percent of second grade students scored higher than 80 percent in in-school testing from the district's Learning and Study Skills program. The objective of this program was to improve listening and observing skills, as well as the ability of second grade students to understand directions.
Merlo reported that 97 percent of first grade students studying Spanish language and culture scored over 80 percent in testing. He credited the district's use of the Salsa Spanish language program as part of the reason for the success.
Pat Cocucci, principal of Huber Street School, said 100 percent of second graders who underwent the Salsa program scored better than 80 percent in in-school testing. Students not only developed an understanding and appreciation of Spanish language and culture, Cocucci said, but they were also able to communicate with others in Spanish using simple statements, greetings and short phrases.
Cocucci also reported that 89 percent of fourth grade students involved in a program to understand and appreciate standard units of measure in everyday living scored better than 80 percent on tests. He said this means that students were able to select and use appropriate standard units of measurement to solve real life problems relative to length, distances, weight, area, volume, time and temperature.
Eighty-six percent of seventh grade students managed to score 80 percent or better on tests on the U.S. Constitution, said Ponti. The goal last year was to get students to identify and understand the key principles underlying the Constitution. Ponti said that 84 percent of eighth grade students scored 80 percent or better on tests covering the use of spreadsheets. At the high school level, 98.1 percent of students enrolled in Pre-Calculus Honors, Advanced Placement and other calculus classes passed those classes with a mark of 80 percent or better, according to Impreveduto.
In a course on basic foods, students studied nutrition and its impact on health. Tests showed that 90 percent received a score of 85 percent or better. Impreveduto credited new technology for helping with the high scores in this area.
Supervisor contract settled
After an extensive closed session for discussion, the Board of Education reported a contract settlement with its Supervisor's union that covers a three-year period starting on July 1, 2000.
Supervisors will see an average salary increase of 4.4 percent for the first year and 4.3 percent for each of the remaining two years.
Board Administrator Edward J. Walkiewicz, however, said, some supervisors received more of an increase than others did, because previous salaries were not even.
"We're trying to bring everyone up to parody," he said. "At the end of this three-year contract everyone should be earning the same thing."
Board Member Doug MacCormack, however, said the changes were accompanied by a shift of responsibilities. "Some supervisors will assume extra duties," MacCormack said.