East Rutherford School Board Tackles Performance and Data Validity Concerns

The East Rutherford School Board recently gathered to discuss topics including student performance, district strategies for improvement, and conflicts of interest among board members. Questions were raised about data validity due to small sample sizes in some racial breakdowns, and strategies for addressing decreased performance were discussed.

Superintendent Giancaspro presented a comprehensive analysis of the district’s performance, revealing that the district had consistently performed better than the state average in ELA and Mathematics, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the focus was on improving Science scores and implementing corrective plans to address areas of concern. The board also scrutinized the performance of various subgroups within the district, such as students with disabilities, Hispanic and Latino students, Asian students, Black and African-American students, and white students. Areas for improvement were identified, especially in fourth and sixth grade ELA, and fourth and seventh grade Mathematics.

Board member Antonio Segalini voiced concerns about the small sample size of some racial breakdowns, questioning the validity of the data. “When the N value is one, then we’re making decisions based on too low of a sample size to have any real information,” Segalini stated. Superintendent Giancaspro also emphasized that the majority of English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the district were born in the United States, underscoring that ESL issues are not strictly related to recent immigrants.

In response to the decreased performance in grades three and four, various strategies were discussed, including after-school literacy programs and hands-on science experiments. The board also acknowledged the progress made by different programs and initiatives, such as the National Junior Honor Society, STEAM and STEM programs, restorative justice practices, instructional coaching, gifted and talented programs, and intervention reading programs.

Conflicts of interest among board members were also addressed, with the board seeking clarification on the extent to which members’ spouses, involved in coaching or overseeing recreation programs, should abstain from decision-making. It was established that board members should abstain if they or their immediate family oversee recreation or coaching.

The board meeting also covered administrative matters such as the adoption of prior board meeting minutes, approval of various curriculum-related items, acceptance of resignations, and approval of agreements for busing services between East Rutherford Board of Education and neighboring districts. The next board meeting was scheduled for November 16th.

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