The New Milford School Board recently reported substantial improvements in student performance, particularly in English language arts and mathematics. The board also highlighted the ongoing efforts to adapt and overcome challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board’s recent meeting included a discussion on a report featuring performance in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science across different grade levels. The report showed significant improvements, with the number of eighth-grade students meeting expectations in ELA increasing from 37% in 2022 to 47% in 2023, and fourth-grade students meeting mathematics expectations increasing from 48% to 59%.
Board member Heather Gomez applauded the increased performance among Hispanic and Black students, stating, “all subgroups showed an increase in performance from 2022 to 2023, nice to see.” The board also noted an ongoing focus on improving proficiency on the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) and science.
Superintendent Danielle Shanley discussed the progress made in student learning, highlighting the success of new maths curriculum developed in response to school closures due to the pandemic. She praised high school teachers for their hands-on approach that has contributed to improvements in student performance.
Shanley also acknowledged the challenges faced due to the shift to remote learning during the pandemic. While she did not observe a dramatic lag in academic performance, she noted a social impact, particularly in the transition from fifth to sixth grade and eighth to ninth grade.
The state of science teaching was also addressed, with the board noting a shift from inquiry-based, hands-on science in the classroom to a more digital approach due to pandemic restrictions. Despite these changes, efforts are underway to keep the science curriculum engaging, with the board teaming with the Berbon County Curriculum Consortium to support science instruction across all grade levels.
Other updates included the distribution of new Acer Chromebooks to first, fifth, and twelfth-grade students, the introduction of a science explorers program at Berkeley Street School funded through a Title 1 grant, and the start of technology upgrades in the auditorium funded by Esser.
The board also addressed concerns about increasing costs, including healthcare and the costs associated with teachers switching to the state plan. They emphasized that staffing decisions were made with care, ensuring that no classes exceed 30 students.