A Look At MacCormack’s Results In Montclair, So Far

The attack-dog sock puppet online account “AssessmentGate” recently posted another random, out-of-nowhere attack on the school district and administration (namely, Superintendent Penny MacCormack, who they seem to be on a tireless crusade to tear down).

In addition to the same sort of washed up conspiracy theories we’ve gotten pretty used to hearing from the (“Broad”, “Reformers”, “Privatizers”, etc), they made the claim that the district had “No Results Available” under MacCormack.

It’s a pretty bold statement, and as anyone who’s been paying close attention to the work the district is doing would know, it’s also wrong.

The discussion in the comments section had some folks pushing back on the claim, so it’s worth noting some of the stuff that they mentioned, and building on that. These sort of claims have largely gone unanswered in this debate, and the attack dogs that continue to make them need to be held to account and lose what little credibility they have for the false claims they’ve made.

While there are many different areas of progress you could point to so far in MacCormack’s tenure (i.e. rededicated efforts to closing the achievement gap, this year’s budget restoring world languages and lowering kindergarten class sizes), I’m going to focus on academic gains here.

In MacCormack’s first year, Montclair’s students made solid gains on the measures we have of academic achievement and college preparedness. For the haters, this probably won’t mean anything because blah blah blah all test scores are bad.

But for those of us who live in the real world, these are the measures that we have of how our students are performing, and while they aren’t perfect, they provide us with information about how we’re doing and how we can do better. Whether we’re on the right trajectory or not. For instance, these sorts of scores help us know about the achievement gaps that exist in our schools and take action to try and close them.

So let’s look at the numbers.

Below are charts I cut out from the school’s state test report for each of our schools. You can find the full report here: http://www.montclair.k12.nj.us/WebPageFiles/2089/performance-2013.pdf

They show the proficiency scores for the last four years. The most recent year is MacCormack’s first in the district, and I think we can count it as a solid success, despite what the attackers say.

By my count, of our 10 schools, things improved in 5 schools, often sharply and in several cases turning around years of declines. In three schools results were mixed or stayed flat. In two schools, declines that had been happening for the past few years continued. Obviously there are areas for improvement, but we’ve made progress and it seems to me that we have a competent superintendent who should have our support, rather than the vitriol and false attacks that are constantly being spewed against her.

Here are the charts, with a brief summary of each:

Bradford Elementary School: Continued growth in math and turned around declines in language arts, making strong gains. Especially strong “Advanced Proficient” gains in Language arts. (UP)




Bullock School: After a year of declines in both Math and Language Arts, turned around both and increased proficiency. (UP)



Edgemont Elementary School: Declines continued here in in both subjects, as they have each of the last four years, unfortunately. (DOWN)



Glenfield Middle School: Stayed about the same, with slight proficiency gains in language arts. (EVEN)




Hillside Elementary School: Turned around a drop in “Advanced Proficient” scores in language arts, made solid growth in math. (UP)



Montclair High School: Gains across the board in all subjects, with especially strong growth in more students scoring “Advanced Proficient”. “Partially proficient” scores dropped in very subject. Especially strong gains in Biology. (UP)




Mt. Hebron Middle School: Continued trend of declines in Language arts and Math, unfortunately. (DOWN)



Northeast Elementary School: While overall proficient numbers stayed about the same, there were solid increases in the number of “Advanced Proficient” scorers in both Math and Language Arts. (UP)



Renaissance Middle: Mostly stayed the same. 2 points higher proficiency in math, one point lower in language arts. (EVEN) Image


Watchung Elementary: Big gains in the numbers of students scoring “Advanced Proficient” in both Language Arts and Math, as well as a small drop in overall proficiency make it mixed results. (EVEN)



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