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Central, Mendham Among Jersey's Best in Statewide Test Scores

Students hit top-15 scores on baseline analysis in 2013.

There is only one test in all of New Jersey that is required to be taken by all 11th graders: the High School Performance Assessment, better known by the acronym HSPA.

Results for the baseline test, which was administered in the spring of 2013 to juniors (who have now risen to seniors), were recently released, and West Morris Central and Mendham High Schools have made it no secret their students belong among the best in the state.

With a combined score of 497.2 in language arts and math, Mendham High School students ranked No. 10 among the state’s high schools. Central, with a combined score of 494.8, came in No. 15 overall.

The top school in the state was Millburn High School with a composite score of 505. There was just one other Morris County school in the top 20 scores: Chatham High School was ranked No. 8 with a composite score of 498.4. There are more than 300 public high schools in New Jersey that take the test annually.

Mendham’s individual score for math was 12th highest in the state, while language arts was sixth highest.

Central’s scores saw a drastic improvement in its individual scores, as it went from No. 52 in 2011’s math scores to No. 15 in 2013. In language arts, Central students went from No. 44 in 2011 to No. 18 in 2013.

While the schools continue to impress with students’ test score achievements, the statewide assessment will soon be a thing of the past. New Jersey is moving from the HSPA analysis – with the final test coming in the spring of 2014 – to Common Core Standards.

HSPA scores are added by the New Jersey Department of Education.

What do you make of the HSPA test? Do you think it’s a fair baseline for student and school comparison throughout the state?

Geoff Cabral December 06, 2013 at 07:50 AM
My kids took the HESPA and at the time complained to me that it was a joke and that "everyone" treated it like a waste of time. They 'aced' it with 95-99 percentile scores across the board, so I guess they were bored by it. Apparently, being one of the best schools in the state on joke tests is something to crow about? Not in my book - nor my kids - since the nut doesn't fall far from the tree! Why not simply make every kid take the SAT/ACT as a Junior and judge our schools' teaching abilities on a national basis?
Anne Clark December 06, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Good point Geoff! That is one of the positives of NJ's move to the Common Core and the PARCC assessment consortium. We are joining with 45 other states to set new academic standards for math and english, and with 19 other states to develop assessments which can then be used for the type of comparison you propose.
denise December 06, 2013 at 08:52 AM
It sounds impressive though.... Top 5% ...Since my daughter will be one of the students taking the common core, I would appreciate an elaboration on what it is.... Or where I can find out more about what it will consist of. Is it something that will be more difficult or just a different style of assessing comprehension and intelligence ?
Hookerman December 06, 2013 at 09:11 AM
The HSPA (not HESPA) test is to measure core high school proficiency, whereas the SAT/ACT tests are specifically for college preparedness. Two totally different measures. The HSPA is standard throughout the whole state. Since the West Morris area is one of the more affluent in the state, it is not surprising that our schools rank well, nor that most West Morris students would find it relatively easy.
Alyssa Becker December 06, 2013 at 11:44 AM
The HSPA is by no means a difficult test. If a student needs to pass it to graduate, it cannot be rigorous. Regardless, it's nice that our schools do better than most when it comes to taking them. Yet for all the praise on the Common Core, that is misguided as well. Trying to teach a uniform curriculum across all 50 states is dangerous as well.
Abner Doubledown December 06, 2013 at 12:57 PM
I find it very suspicious when any shred of good news that comes out showing how the WMRHSD schools are performing is met with derision like that of Geoff above or of Brian Cavanaugh and Jamie Button, etc. Why do all of these district bashers want the WMRHS district to appear to be performing poorly? A) They need bad performance to be the grounding basis to gain support for breaking up the district so they can get at fixing the tax inequality. B) Button and Cavanaugh want to claim to be heroes when ranking and scores improve on their watch which of course is a reflection more on the performance of the superintendent and teaching staff then on any board member - especially those board members who vote against any and all program changes that actually helped to improve the district in the first place. It is amazing that the same idiots that bemoan our inadequate school rankings will be the ones who attack these improving results. With improved HSPA scores our ranking score is affected positively so you'd think people would be happy right? Sit back and watch how this good news is twisted into something bad...
denise December 06, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Yikes researching common core because I want to know what it is... It's more control! Oh noooo! "Barack Obama wants to force Common Core on America’s children. He doesn’t want to let parents control their child’s education. But we CAN stop him. In 2013, patriots like you made a difference in the fight to stop Common Core in states across the country. You defunded it in Michigan, and you stopped Common Core testing in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Florida and more. You did it. But in 2014 the fight starts again. State lawmakers and Obama’s corporate cronies plan to force Common Core on America’s children next year. And if we’re going to stop Common Core permanently, we need help to educate people on what it is. Common Core will transform America’s children into progressive robots. Its supporters want future generations to worship the Government. They want to eliminate local control of schools and dictate a child’s education from D.C. Common Core standards teach children that government is the answer – not families and communities. If you want our children to learn traditional American values, you need to help stop Common Core." ..... Okay now it's scary....
Anne Clark December 07, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I suggest using the Thomas Fordham Foundation website for a more rational discussion. Common Core is supported by governors and chief school officers of 45 states. The Common Core standards are much better than NJ's previous set. As with any change, there is much resistance - and much imperfection in its implementation. But the best thing to do is read the standards themselves, and decide for yourself. There are many hyperbolic statements being made. Take a look and decide for yourself. Google the standards, read them, ask teachers about them.

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