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No Walk in the PARCC: Most Brick High School Students Skipped Test, Scores a Mixed Bag

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Brick Township Memorial High School (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Brick Township Memorial High School (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Editor’s Note: State school performance reports were released May 13. Each day this week, we will examine a new category of results. We begin with high school PARCC performance and college readiness.

Most students at Brick Township’s two high schools skipped last year’s standardized PARCC tests, but those who took them – in many cases – scored about the state average, data released by the state Department of Education last Friday said.

The participation rate of students taking the tests – short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – fell far short of the 95 percent goal rate the state had set. At Brick Township High School, just 46.6 percent of students took the Language Arts section of the test and 44.4 percent took the math exam. At Brick Memorial High School, only 26.5 percent of students took the Language Arts section and 23.9 percent took the math section.

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New Jersey became infamous during the administration of tests during the 2014-15 school year for an “opt-out” movement, where parents or students refused to take the exams. The high school participation rate paled in comparison to the elementary and middle school rates, which hovered in the 90 percent range in almost every school. District-wide, 75 percent of students took the exams.

Beyond the dismal participation rate, the scores delivered by test-takers at the township’s two high schools were a mixed bag – some results lagged state averages while others matched or exceeded them. Tests were scored in five categories, with levels one through three representing scores that did not meet expectations, and levels four and five representing scores that met and exceeded expectations, respectively.

State data breaks down scores by grade level, ethnicity, income status, disability status and subject. For the purposes of this report, Shorebeat used the overall scores by grade level.

At Brick Township High School, 42 percent of freshmen met expectations (compared to 41 percent statewide), 43 percent of sophomores met expectations (38 percent statewide), and 28 percent of juniors met expectations (versus 42 percent statewide).

At Brick Memorial High School, 32 percent of freshmen met expectations, 24 percent of sophomores met expectations and 64 percent of juniors met expectations.

Out of five targets in the category of College and Career Readiness, Brick Township High School met zero benchmarks and Brick Memorial High School met one. The category – which has become influential in many school district ranking formulas in the private sector – gauges student participation in the PSAT and SAT tests, the percentage of students who score above 1550 on the SATs, the percentage of students who take at least one Advanced Placement course and the percentage of students who score highly on AP exams. The statistics of this category for both schools is included below.

BTHS College and Career Readiness Stats (Source: NJDOE)
BTHS College and Career Readiness Stats (Source: NJDOE)
BMHS College and Career Readiness Stats (Source: NJDOE)
BMHS College and Career Readiness Stats (Source: NJDOE)

The overall graduation rate at Brick Township High School last year was 88 percent and, at Brick Memorial High School, was 92 percent. Both graduation rates met state benchmarks.

Within 16 months of graduating, state data shows that students of the most recent graduating years attended college at a rate of 78.5 percent. Of those students, 34.3 percent of students were attending a two-year institution and 64.7 percent were attending a four-year school.

The full reports are located online for both high schools: BTHS here and BMHS here.