With the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations comes a new “rating system” in the State of New Jersey. This system rates every school in the state (over 2,100) on a 1-100 scale. The ratings for high schools are based on graduation and absenteeism rates and PARCC scores, while elementary and middle school scores are based on absenteeism, PARCC and student progress on PARCC tests, among other indicators.
The new ratings were established to comply with the federal ESSA which replaced the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. ESSA was enacted in 2015, and it was intended to "build on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country," according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The flaws that many see include the fact that PARCC is weighted so heavily, high schools are on the same ranking list as elementary schools and charter schools, and absenteeism is a very hard thing to control. The positive aspect of the actual score out of 100 is that it finally takes into consideration the growth of student success over time.
Our score and ranking is in essence a K-8 score for two reasons. First off, Memorial could not be scored because it only has one grade level of PARCC testing and therefore it could not be scored on a growth model as there is nothing to compare it to. Secondly, it is a K-8 score for the simple fact that success of students in MAS not only is indicative of the outstanding work of MAS staff members but also due to the outstanding work of Memorial staff members in preparation and foundation building. Therefore, our score is listed as Maywood Avenue School but for the reasons I just explained, our score is a District score.
We scored 91.18 out of a possible 100 points. This places us ranked 188 out of 2,100 schools in the state of New Jersey. This places us in the top 8% of all schools in New Jersey based on this New Jersey Department of Education rating. It also places us as the 12th highest rated in Bergen County based on schools that are either K-8 or middle school grade levels. This is an outstanding accomplishment and one that everyone should take great pride in.
Rankings and scores such as these are data driven and standardized which likely makes the fluctuation from year to year inevitable. Our District and many others would score off the charts higher if they included such indicators as wellness, respect, character, and engagement. We would soar through the roof in scoring if we counted teacher work beyond the school day, staff involvement in extracurriculars, and student functions, and parent involvement to ensure our students are setting the correct priorities. We would need a new scale to measure our score if it included a way to measure the point value of the caring an unconditional support our educators impart on our students each day.
Last week I was personally contacted by the Bergen County Executive Superintendent who is in charge of all Bergen County school districts. She went out of her way to commend our performance and our outstanding achievement.
My response to her was thank you, but that I, and many other districts in Bergen County, don’t need a scale score or point system or ranking mechanism to tell us that we are doing great things day in and day out with our staff, students and community. It is nice though to be reminded of such.
We have much to be proud of in this District, and although the focus and coverage of the moment is that of our high school tuition issue, I assure you that the priority is squarely centered on the education and wellness of our students. The time-tested phrase of “this too shall pass” is absolutely appropriate in this regard, and we will continue to fight for what we know is fair and just in this issue but never at the expense of the quality education of our kids.
As seen by the data that I just provided our District is excelling. We want to continue on this path, and in order to do so, we need the help of the community. We need to make sure that we do right by our kids as it relates to the high school tuition issue and continued strategic planning, while maintaining excellence. During the forum this past Monday I mentioned that the District wants to create an “Action Committee” to help ensure that our District achieves continued success. I encourage you to join this committee, to help us reinforce our commitment to the District, and to work together to advocate for our children.
Please complete the Google form found via the link below. The District and BOE thanks you for your support and looks forward to the creation of this committee as well as a successful rest of the school year.
Superintendent of Schools