NJ Pen Data Brief: 2013-14 NJ School Performance Reports

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NJ Pen examined some of the key data from the latest state report cards and found out that most area high schools are hitting their marks.

By Matt Skoufalos

With the discussion surrounding the latest standardized tests about to be administered to public schoolchildren reaching a fever pitch, parents and educators have been bombarded with discussions about the quality of the education their tax dollars are buying.

We crunched the numbers for seven high schools in our Camden County coverage area–Audubon, Cherry Hill East and West, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, and Haddon Township–and discovered that, by and large, most of them are meeting or exceeding state requirements in several key metrics.

Graduation Benchmarks

Across the board, all seven high schools we examined achieved 100 percent of their goals for graduation rates, the measure of how many graduates a school produces based on those who entered the school four years earlier. Among the schools in our coverage area, Audubon High School performed the best against other schools in both its peer group (86th percentile) and state group (75th percentile).

Standardized Test Performance

Similarly, five of the seven high schools studied hit 100 percent of their benchmarks for standardized test scores on math and language arts, or “Academic Achievement” marks. Only Audubon and Collingswood fell short of the mark, at 75 and 67 percent, respectively. The highest achieveers were Haddonfield and Cherry Hill East, which turned in numbers that were better than 88 percent of schools statewide. Cherry Hill East and West topped 96 and 91 percent of other schools in their peer group.

College and Career Readiness

Haddonfield was the only high school in the group to hit 100 percent of its benchmarks in the section of the school report card that measures student participation in advanced placement (AP) courses and college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. The next closest was Cherry Hill East at 80 percent; Cherry Hill West and Haddon Township clocked in at 80 percent, and no other school exceeded 20 percent of the state goals. Haddonfield was also tops in the group among statewide comparisons, hitting the 85th percentile; in the peer groups, however, Cherry Hill East led the way, reaching the 82nd percentile.

 

Average Composite SAT Scores

Students at five of the seven high schools produced SAT scores that were right in line with the 1514 statewide average. The top performer in the group was Haddonfield, where students averaged 1768 out of a possible 2400 points, followed closely by Cherry Hill East at 1716.

Students in the Arts

The report cards also tracked the number of students engaged in fine arts, performing arts, drama, and music classes. Among schools in the area, Haddon Heights was the runaway leader, with nearly three-quarters of all kids (74.4 percent) taking at least one such class–nearly a full 25 percentage points better than the state average.

A Guide to the Figures

  • Very High Performance – 80th percentile
  • High Performance – 60th to 79.9th percentiles
  • Average Performance – 40th to 59.9th percentiles
  • Lagging Performance – 20th to 39.9th percentiles
  • Significantly Lagging Performance – 19.9th percentile or lower

Peer Schools are defined by the Department of Education as “schools that have similar grade levels and students with similar demographic characteristics, such as the percentage of students qualifying for Free/Reduced Lunch, Limited English Proficiency programs or Special Education programs.”

Full High School Report Cards

District Narratives (Superintendent Letters)

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