Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Poorer Districts See Large Swings

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Poorer Districts See Large Swings

Article excerpt

North Jersey schools that scored the largest gains in passing rates on state tests last year were in some of the poorest areas and had plenty of room for improvement.

The school with the most impressive jump - Fairview's School 3, where children passed 92 percent of tests last year, up from 59 percent the year before -- benefited statistically because only about 100 students took tests. All were third-graders, and with such a small pool, an influx of talented kids makes a marked difference.

"That was an exceptional group," said Superintendent Louis DeLisio.

Even so, he also gave credit to a gifted new principal and teachers who volunteered last year to tutor students after school several days a week. He said the extra attention pushed some children who had hovered just below the passing score to jump over it. The school also had children practice using a diagnostic test called Learnia, which mirrors the state test and pinpoints students' weaknesses.

The Record's analysis of test scores released Wednesday also showed big gains in passing rates for Passaic City's Casimir Pulaski School 8 (to 57 percent), Lodi's Columbus School (to 87 percent), and Garfield's Washington Irving School (to 78 percent). The Record combined results on all tests taken at each school to find an overall proficiency rate. The state's information details each test by grade and subject.

Principal Vincent Di Chiara said teachers at Columbus School in Lodi were working harder to scrutinize data on children's progress, a theme echoed by administrators at several schools making strides. Di Chiara said Columbus also benefited from a windfall of new laptops and interactive whiteboards three years ago, thanks to federal stimulus funds. That technology, including a Web-based program called Study Island that drills students for the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, "helped tremendously," he said. …

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