River Edge School Board Tackles Achievement Gap and Budgetary Constraints

In a recent meeting, the River Edge School Board members discussed a significant performance gap in third-grade English language arts scores, progress in state assessments, and the impact of budgetary constraints on arts programs within the school district.

The most pressing issue emerged as a performance gap in third-grade English language arts scores between Cherry Hill and Roosevelt schools. Mr. Warner, who presented the New Jersey learning standard assessment and the dynamic learning maps, suggested using the Link It assessment to monitor this discrepancy. The board members agreed on the need for more coaching and intervention support, recognizing that the lower performance could be due to the impact of COVID-19, as these students were in first grade during the pandemic’s height.

The board also celebrated the district’s sustained scores despite a statewide decline in math scores. They attributed an improvement in math scores, now in the 80s, to a rigorous focus on algebra in the sixth-grade curriculum. Attention was also drawn to the testing session duration for third graders, considered a significant demand for younger students.

Concerns were raised over the lower scores of the black/African-American subgroup, and the board agreed to devote more attention to this. They commended the fourth grade for consistently high scores and noted improvements in the sixth grade after targeted focus. However, the fifth grade was identified as an area needing improvement.

Superintendent Cathy Danahy addressed questions surrounding the discontinuation of the Mayo Performing Arts program for grades three and four. This cut was due to budgetary constraints and the need to provide competitive wages to retain a quality teaching staff. Elizabeth Brown and Gyuchang Sim voiced their concerns about the discontinuation of the arts program, stressing the importance of art education.

In response to a statewide shortage of world language teachers, Danahy set a clear vision for world language in elementary schools. A plan was announced to advertise a World Language teacher position in February for the 2024-2025 school year. The school will participate in job fairs across the state to find a suitable candidate.

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