Mahwah School Board Stands Firm on Bullying Prevention, Touts Student Achievement

In a comprehensive meeting held on August 30, 2023, the Mahwah School Board heard updates on anti-bullying measures, achievement data, and inclusivity audits.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Turo presented an annual report on the district’s HIB (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying) self-assessment scores. Schools within the district performed well, scoring between 74 to 78 out of a possible 78 points. This strong showing led to discussions among board members such as Prema C. Moorthy and Richard A. DeSilva, Jr. about whether to merely meet the standards or to exceed them. Dr. DeTuro articulated that the district’s current level of training and investigation is adequate. “Because our staff is serving in other capacities to devote more energy towards something that we’re already successful at is to me unnecessary at this point,” said Dr. DeTuro.

Board members also focused on other educational metrics, including the forthcoming presentations on SAT, AP, and New Jersey GPA scores. The meeting included an intriguing update on the ACCESS test for multilingual learners. The number of students who took the test has increased over the past year, and there was significant growth in proficiency, bolstered by innovative diagnostic tools such as Lexia English and iReady.

When it came to standardized testing, Mahwah students excelled. On the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment, Mahwah’s students performed above the state average—91% passed in English Language Arts (ELA) compared to the state’s 80.5%, and 84% in math compared to the state’s 55%. Yet, a note of caution was added about the lowered passing score for this year, which could affect the interpretation of this improvement.

ACT and SAT participation rates have also surged. Mr. Pascal reported that the school saw 191 students participate in the SAT and 47 in the ACT. He attributed this to offering students free ACT and PSAT tests. Further, Mahwah has an impressive four-year graduation rate of 98.0%, with almost 95% of graduates attending either a four or two-year college.

Beyond academics, the board’s Thunderbird Partnership Program, designed to connect students with community experts for workplace learning, will be featured in the October issue of the School Administrator Magazine.

Additionally, the board is grappling with low ridership numbers for school buses. A survey targeting all bus riders is being planned to address this issue and optimize the program.

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