Year In Review: Newark Public Schools’ Students Show Significant Improvement in Math and English on State Exams

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Student Growth Percentile scores and PARCC Proficiency data point to steady academic progress for students across the district

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[Newark, NJ – June 30, 2016] – Newark Public Schools (NPS) made significant growth in student achievement in both math and english language arts (ELA) according to the most recently reported metrics by the NJDOE. These findings are based on student growth percentile (SGP) results, as well as a comparative analysis of student proficiency rates on the PARCC exam. In brief, SGP is the state recognized measure that examines how well students are progressing compared to their peers across the state. Results include:

  • The District SGP score increased 8 percentile points in English and 9 in Math last year.
    • 63% of students now show achievement growth consistent with or above the state average
  • 39/45 schools improved their SGP score in English, and 31/45 schools improved in Math.
    • 4x as many schools now have SGP scores above the state mean in English as previous year, and 2x as many do in Math.
  • 12/15 Renew schools improved in ELA, and 10/15 improved in Math.
    • More Renew Schools are performing above the state average than ever before.
    • All schools have moved above the 35th percentile for Math, and just one remains below 35 for ELA.
  • Proficiency rates also improved when compared with similar districts.
    • Newark students (district + charter) have a higher PARCC proficiency rate than 70% of districts with comparable demography (DFG A) in English, and 80% in Math.

“These SGP scores show meaningful improvement in learning for students across the district,” said Superintendent Cerf. “We have seen a trend in recent test results that show steady student progress over time, and this is yet another indicator that shows our students are making promising progress.”

SGP is different from the proficiency scores associated with PARCC. Proficiency describes a student’s performance against a set of standards at a single point in time, while SGP shows educators how much a student learned from one year to the next when compared with their peers. SGP is reported on a 1-99 scale – with the 99th percentile being the highest, and the 50th percentile meaning that a student is learning at a similar rate as his or her academic peers. For more information on SGP, see this video.

“Examining student growth can be an especially powerful metric for our students and educators,” noted Caleb Perkins, Special Assistant for Curriculum and Instruction at NPS. “Student growth percentiles provide us with important information about how much students are learning. Even though some schools may not have a high number of students meeting expectations, these measurements can show how much they are helping students grow considering where they started. This data in particular shows us that more of our schools are helping students catch up than in years past.”

In addition to SGP data, the district also examined comparative performance data from the PARCC exam. Despite the more difficult PARCC exam, students are actually gaining ground on other districts across the state and making substantial progress when compared with demographically similar districts (called district factor groups (DFG)). Additionally, when analysis from all Newark schools (both charter and district) are included, Newark students are making even more significant strides – scoring better than 70% of DFG A districts in English, and 80% of DFG A districts in Math.

“Thanks to the hard work of our principals and teachers, we are starting to see some real signs of progress in student achievement across the district,” Cerf added. “I am confident that these new growth scores will further enhance our ability to improve instruction and learning in our schools and classrooms.”

SGP scores align with other measures used to evaluate educator effectiveness

Under AchieveNJ, the state’s educator evaluation system, SGP scores are also one of multiple measures used to assess educators whose students take state assessments. The results from Newark educators’ SGP scores are noteworthy in two respects. First, they overwhelmingly aligned with ratings based on less quantitative and locally developed metrics such as observations. Second, in the small number of cases where they weren’t directly aligned, these results generally improved educator ratings.

  • 90.5% of teacher evaluation ratings remained the same;
  • 7% of teacher evaluation ratings improved while just 2.5% declined.

NPS school leaders reviewed SGP scores throughout the spring and shared them with individual educators. These scores will show individual teachers how much their students grew over the past year. This process will help the district verify the accuracy of the data before incorporating it into educator evaluation ratings. It will also allow teachers to better understand what impact their instruction has had on their students’ growth. Once scores have been shared at the school level, the district will also release school level data.