Emerson School Board Addresses Test Score Disparities and Infrastructure Concerns

Emerson School Board recently held an in-depth discussion regarding district-wide test score disparities among student demographics and pressing infrastructure issues, particularly concerning the Memorial School’s roof.

Denise Conan, Anti-Bullying Specialist at Emerson Junior Senior High School, presented the district’s self-assessment on Harassment Intimidation and Bullying (HIV), emphasizing the district’s notable score of 94%. Conan mentioned the plan to train additional personnel on anti-bullying measures, aiming to further bolster a safe school environment. “We strive to always motivate our students and model for our students a level of excellence,” she stated.

The board shifted attention to test results. Emerson generally outperformed the New Jersey state average in the Language Arts assessment, although concerns arose about the 8th-grade scores. A deeper dive into demographics revealed female students consistently outshining their male counterparts in Language Arts. The board is also considering refining instruction methods due to observed performance gaps between racial and economic groups.

In terms of Mathematics, data indicated male students typically scored higher than females. The overarching goal remains to see equal performance across all demographic groups. While the district performed commendably in many grade levels compared to the state average, challenges in score interpretation emerged due to smaller sample sizes in specific grades. The board also discussed the need for improving science scores, which have been lackluster for both the state and the Emerson district.

The topic of curriculum revision was prominent. New ELA and math standards approved by the state board necessitated a revisit of current teaching approaches. There’s a consensus among educators about the new math standards resembling the older ones, which means minor adjustments. A notable addition to the curriculum is the ‘Shark Tank’ project, introduced in collaboration with River Edge School District, designed to weave economic standards with number systems and engineering processes.

Physical infrastructure challenges were addressed, particularly issues concerning Memorial School’s roof, which has been affected by recent rainfall. The board acknowledges the urgency of a long-term solution. Additionally, the possibility of an NJ acceleration program Grant, which could allow summer tutoring sessions for specific grades, was mentioned.

Mr. Smith, expressing his feelings on a recent terrorist attack, drew parallels with 9/11, underlining the necessity for community unity and support. Superintendent Dr. Philip H. Nisonoff praised the school’s spirit and acknowledged various sports events and the impactful bias symposium organized by the Emerson Police Department.

Business Administrator Mr. Behrooz Pasdar announced the commencement of the budget development process for the 2024-2025 school year and updated on the ongoing district audit.

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