Here’s how Cherry Hill did on the state report card

Class sizes in Cherry Hill’s 12 elementary schools and two high schools continue to stay close to the state average of 19.1 students per class, according to the 2010-2011 School Report Card issued by the New Jersey Department of Education late last month.

Ninth grade classes at High Schools East and West average 15.3 and 16.3 students per class, respectively. Tenth grade classes are on par with the state average, while 11th and 12th grade classes average slightly above state figures.

At the elementary level, class sizes varied. First grade classrooms at Thomas Paine averaged 14 students, the lowest of any Cherry Hill elementary school. The highest number was found at Cooper, with the average fourth grade classroom averaging 28 pupils. The state average for kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms is 20.4.

Middle school classrooms averaged much higher than state averages. Sixth graders at Beck, Carusi and Rosa averaged 24.8, 24.9 and 31 students, respectively, while sixth grade classrooms across the state averaged 20.7 pupils.

Testing and scores

Students in the district continue to surpass state scores on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK), as well at on the High School Proficiency Assessments (HSPA) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).

High School students scored far more proficient on the HSPA test as compared to the state average.

The state average for the math portion shows that about 25 percent of students scored below average, 50 percent finished with an average score and another 25 percent finished above average.

Students at East placed 6.5 percent below average, 41.7 percent average and 46.9 percent above average, while West students placed 15.9 percent below average, 56.5 percent average and 27.6 percent above average.

Superintendent Maureen Reusche said the district recognizes that standardized testing has its shortcomings, but said it is also a good way to gauge student achievement. She said she is pleased with scores from students across the district.

“Cherry Hill students continue to perform well on state assessments, with our total student population scoring at or above the averages of schools in the district’s socioeconomic category in 100 percent of the testing areas,” Reusche said. “What this means is that in most grade levels and subject areas, Cherry Hill students score as well as or better than students from the more affluent districts.”

The high school’s SAT scores exceeded state averages, with students averaging 576 (East) and 519 (West) in math, 546 (East) and 504 (West) in verbal, and 555 (East) and (518) in essay. A 518 in math, 494 in verbal and 496 in essay is what students from across the state averaged.

West principal Joe Meloche said he was pleased with testing scores, but said students have accomplished much more academically throughout the year.

“Of course, student achievement cannot be defined solely by performance on standardized tests. Of equal importance are classroom work and assessments, projects, oral presentations, participation in classroom discussions, participation in the arts, community service, and more,” Meloche said.

In 2011, Meloche said the West community celebrated increased AP class enrollment, National Merit Semi-Finalists and Commended Students, and numerous college scholarship recipients.

At the middle school level, eighth graders at each of the three middle schools had close to or more students score proficient on the NJASK exam in Language Arts, math and science.

Students at each of the 12 elementary schools had fewer partial proficiency scores and more proficient and advanced proficient scores on the Language Arts portion, as compared to the state average.

Fifth graders at 11 of the 12 elementary schools had more students who achieved advanced proficiency on the math portion compared to state averages.

Reusche added that even with good test results across the district, scores don’t tell the whole story about a class or student.

“We all know that a single test is not an accurate indicator of success in school, nor can one test measure all that we believe is important in a student’s educational experience. Assessment results represent just one of many measures of student achievement,” Reusche said. “We continue to take great pride in the high levels of achievement and the many academic, athletic, extracurricular, and community service accomplishments of our students.”

No Child Left Behind

Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the NJASK and HSPA exams are given to students across the state to measure proficiency Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Every school is evaluated annually to see if AYP has been met and state benchmarks reached.

Each of the 12 elementary schools met AYP requirements.

Rosa International Middle School made AYP, however Beck and Carusi Middle Schools did not. This is the first year the two missed the benchmark, which only merits an early warning, with no intervention needed.

High Schools West and East, along with the Alternative High School, all met AYP requirements.

Finances/Salaries

For the 2010-2011 school year, the district spent $15,704 per student, about $1,000 more than districts of a similar budget type.

The components that make up the cost per pupil include faculty and administration salaries, classroom instructional costs and support services, among other items.

Administrators in the district averaged a salary of $113,233. Statewide, administrators averaged $114,491.

Across the state, faculty averaged a $63,851 salary, while district faculty averaged $53,935.

Reusche said the district’s success could be attributed to a supportive community.

“Our board of education, administrators, teachers, and support staff remain committed to providing each student a preeminent education, one that includes academic challenges, character building, social growth, promotion of civic responsibilities, and the development of a foundation for lifelong learning,” Reusche said.

About Melissa DiPento

If it happens in Cherry Hill, I want to know about it. I'm a South Philly resident/South Jersey suburbanite and will see the story first-hand, even if that means riding my single-speed bike along Route 70. I especially enjoy writing about politics and sustainability.View all posts by Melissa DiPento