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Heights Principals Detail Students' Progress, Outline Goals

Principals of all four schools and the director of special services spoke on test score analysis and what is being done to help students continue to improve.

The Hasbrouck Heights schools administrative team gave a detailed report at the Board of Education meeting Thursday night on students’ progress based on recent state test scores while also outlining the many actions that are being taken to further increase proficiency.

At the elementary level, state test scores are being analyzed in comparison between both schools Euclid and Lincoln and how they compare with the district factor group which represents the average in similar districts.

Score analysis shows some differences in students’ performance between the two schools at some grade and subject levels which principals Michael Sickles, of Euclid, and Joseph Colangelo, of Lincoln, want to change. They have been bringing teachers of both schools together to share ideas so they can learn from each other’s strengths and share those methods so all students benefit, they explained. 

Efforts to increase reading literacy includes implementation of one-on-one time with a reading specialist. They plan to implement this for grades K-2 by school year 2013-2014, K – 5 by school year 2014-2015 and be completely K-8 by school year 2015-2016.  Other reading improvement methods include the use of Lexile scores.

A long-term goal is to change the assessment of students moving away from number grades into a system that highlights students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Hasbrouck Heights Middle School scores show improvements at most levels with the students beating out the state average except sixth grade language arts and eighth grade math, explained principal Joseph Mastropietro. Reading comprehension improved but there is need for improvement in the area of writing, he explained.

To continue to increase improvement there are various opportunities for extra help from teachers and tutoring they can take advantage of, said Mastropietro. They have also brought in additional reading into activity periods and other activities such as Word Problem Wednesdays continues which encourages students to write.

At the high school just about 90 percent of the high school eleventh graders are proficient in the state HSPA test, according to Principal Linda Simmons. Out of the 145 students who took the test only 15 were considered not proficient and had to be retested again last month.

Overall students do well scoring above the district factor group average in both math and language arts, she said. To continue students’ success, Simmons says additional math is being brought into activity periods, extra help is offering and they have increased non-fiction reading requirements. Test preparation is also key.

Dr. Matthew Helfant, director of special services, explained that regardless of whether some students are not scoring at proficient level an analysis of scores from year to year does show improvement, and at some levels quite significantly.  He emphasized the importance of test preparation which will be taught to special education students on a weekly basis in grades 3 to 8. At the high school Suzanne Kos, one of the reading specialists, is tutoring students one-on-one to enhance language arts skills and teach them test taking strategies.

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