State Report Card Grades New Milford's Performance

Report reflects SOD's position regarding the proposed residential portion of the United Water property development--New Milford's classrooms are overcrowded.

The New Jersey Department of Education released report cards for the performance of every school in the state during the 2010-11 year Thursday.

Students at  generally had a greater percentage of proficient scores than their peers in the state and the District Factor Group (DFG) — which measures schools from socio-economically similar areas — on both the language arts and math sections of the HSPA test.

However, the average SAT score from New Milford High School was slightly lower than the state and the DFG average in the verbal and essay portions, more so in math.

The high school far surpassed the state average in Grades 11 and 12 participation in Advanced Placement programs. New Milford High School averaged 47.7 percent while the state average is 39.9 percent.

The report also seems to strengthen 's (Stop Over Development) argument that the proposed residential portion of the will burden an already overburdened school system. The state's report shows that New Milford High School has an average classroom size of 22.4 percent versus the state average of 19.1 percent. 

At the May 17 special meeting of the Zoning Board, John DeSantis questioned Hekemian's expert on affordable housing, Dr. David Kinsey, regarding . Kinsey replied that he did not take that into account when determining the inherently beneficial use of the property. 

Lori Barton, SOD's Communications Chair, cited overcrowded classrooms as negative criteria as defined under a D-1 variance. 

The school had a 92.90 percent graduation rate.

Keep following this story on Patch. We will follow up with more detailed information and a look at local elementary and middle schools. We will also be talking with school officials to gather more specific information regarding the results.


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Darren Drake June 01, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Thank you Ann for showing that the BOE has every right to be concerned. Our level of education is threatened by this and the entire town,therefore, should be upset and moved to action.... This is not just a "near the property" issue.
Jeffrey DelVecchio June 01, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Did Dr. Kinsey take anything, other than who was paying him, into account when preparing his report?
miriam pickett June 01, 2012 at 04:23 PM
One more reason for the BOA to vote no on allowing this development to go forward.
Big Ben June 02, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Education in New Milford is slowly going down the toilet and that fact more than flooding, shoprite, SOD, ball fields, chicken ranches, police salaries, taxes, the water company, etc., is going to affect the resale value of our homes.
Denise June 02, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Big Ben-In my humble opinion, all the above collectively has made New Milford reach the toilet quicker than you think......
Paige June 03, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Big Ben - I do not agree that education in New Milford is "going down the toilet". There are many great things happening for the children of New Milford. I am not sure if you have been to any Board Of Education meetings, asked any questions about the programs, attended any of the school concerts, art shows, or Back to School Nights. If you have concerns then please attend a meeting and voice them. That is why they are open to the public.
Big Ben June 03, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Paige - If you're happy with the fact that our students score below the State average, that's OK with me. There may be "many great things" happening, but they don't seem to be enhancing the education program. A while back, there was a Superintendent named Baldwin who was taking the hard steps to get our educational program on track but the helicopter parents forced her out. Our loss.
Mary McElroy June 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Big Ben - I think you need to read the article again because here's exactly what the report said: "Students at New Milford High School generally had a greater percentage of proficient scores than their peers in the state and the District Factor Group (DFG) — which measures schools from socio-economically similar areas — on both the language arts and math sections of the HSPA test. However, the average SAT score from New Milford High School was slightly lower than the state and the DFG average in the verbal and essay portions, more so in math. The high school far surpassed the state average in Grades 11 and 12 participation in Advanced Placement programs. New Milford High School averaged 47.7 percent while the state average is 39.9 percent." I believe that's the whole story & it doesn't say that NM scored below State Averages or DFG in any area other than SAT. I'll be asking questions about why we are "slightly lower" in this area; does it means that we (parents & educators) need to do a better job with SAT prep? What types of programs/resources are available to our HS students in this area? In the other areas where we are above DFG/State averages, I'd like to know how we can do even better. Lowering classroom size would be a factor & most certaintly increasing size via the proposed major development at the UW site would be a disaster. Finally, I'd say "great job" to whomever is teaching the AP courses in the HS because they are obviously doing a terrific job.
John June 04, 2012 at 04:34 PM
What ever the reasons are nothing will change unless the teachers worry about education not there contract. A while back I went to my daughters science fair and not one of her teachers were present. Just last Friday the 8th grade went on their class trip and not one 8th grade teacher went. I asked my daughter why? She replyed that the teachers contract was up. The teachers were not going to get paid for the extra hours so they boycotted the trip. For my child to tell me that the teachers are more concerned about there contract and not about them, This town has a huge problem maybe the scores reflect on this. DEOMS.
Ulises June 05, 2012 at 11:04 AM
At the end of the day, parents need to be more involved in their kid's education and our teachers need to be more accessible. In addition, Suez/United Water's overdevopment real-estate transaction is going to increase our taxes with more union contacts, which our town can't even afford today, and our kid's education will suffer due to overdevelopment. SOD!
Jim Prendergast June 05, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Hopefully the 2011/12 data shows the improvement that we all want to see. NM has made several improvements over the past few years that is beginning to bear fruit and should continue to do so. The data in the article is from the 2010/11 school year. Using this report card for information, we are presented with 3 years of data where possible. The HSPA is up but the SAT scores are down. If the 2011/12 data shows similar mixed results, then a trend is forming and we have to wonder if something isn’t right. Could it be language barriers, lack of equity, class size, quality, etc.? We can’t just look at numbers and immediately assume the schools are failing the children. Speaking of numbers, the current version of the HSPA is built to test for proficiencies that are aligned with No Child Left Behind. NCLB is not an acceptable set of guidelines to determine student success. The SAT is a test that does not measure what a student knows, but measures the student’s ability to learn. When the proficient percentage on the HSPA hangs around the average and the lower the SAT means to me that effort is being placed on taking and passing the HSPA tests and the NJASK varieties instead of cultivating life-long learning skills.
Jim Prendergast June 05, 2012 at 06:15 PM
On the upside, NJ is a state that has been granted NCLB flexibility and in exchange - “agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness”. It’s these changes, along with the CC Standards that offer me the most hope of sustainable improvements. I’m glad to be part of a district that intends to take these opportunities to improve. I don’t believe that SAT prep courses are what we need (sorry Mary ). Instead, improved classroom rigor, teacher accountability and an increased depth in curriculum are the ways to have a student truly succeed.
Jim Prendergast June 05, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Moving down the report card to the AP enrollment & scores… For the 2010/11 school year, NM had 149 students enrolled in an AP class which is the 47.7% of 11th & 12th grade mentioned. While the number is higher than state averages, it is much lower than what it should be or could be. All students deserve the access and equity required to become successful. 190 New Milford students took an AP exam last year and 91 received a score of 3 or higher. That’s only 28.4% of the 11th and 12th grade student enrollment who have managed to secure early college credit. A little bit of information that I would like to see that isn’t available through public records would be how many of the 51 students who took the AP English Lit and AP US History exam without taking the AP course scored a 3 or higher. It may provide some insight as to the quality of AP instruction in the school.
Jim Prendergast June 05, 2012 at 06:17 PM
If you look at the high student and faculty attendance rates, you can see that New Milford has students and teachers who want to come to school and learn/teach. The students deserve the best possible education and the teachers deserve the best possible resources. Although it would be nice to see some, if not most, of our teachers receive their National Board Certification, we have a faculty that has the knowledge to provide quality instruction to the students. I won’t speak here as to the faculty and administration salary data. That’s for you to decide.
Jim Prendergast June 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Likewise, if you look at the report cards for the other schools in town, you will see that they all hover around the same state averages. If we want to see more success at the high school level, we must continue with the changes to the K-8 system as well. If we don’t try, we’ve already failed. If we try and we aren’t successful, we learn from it and try again. You should also take a look U.S. News for their profile on New Milford schools. While their information is from the 2009-10 school year, it offers a slightly different presentation of the data along with the district’s achievement gap and college readiness index (http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/new-jersey/districts/new-milford/new-milford-high-school-12666 ) The district narrative is well written and speaks to the potential for constant improvements and commitment to provide a quality educational experience in New Milford. (http://education.state.nj.us/rc/rc11/narrative/03/3550/03-3550-000.html ) It’s up to us to support the district by becoming involved in the process whether it be by offering ideas, voicing concerns, or holding the district accountable for what it promises to deliver. With all of the changes on the horizon in New Milford, it’s imperative that we continue to push for quality education. Don’t be vocal only for what you feel is wrong, but speak up for what you see is right. The future of New Milford kids is the future of New Milford.
Big Ben June 05, 2012 at 09:43 PM
My understanding is that while a very few colleges accept an AP score of 3 for college credit, most require a score of 4 or 5. Very few of our students score 4 or 5. Many of our students are placed into AP classes which gives us a nice number, but very few achieve success.
Jim Prendergast June 06, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I wouldn't say most, but yes quite a few HE institutions have raised the minimum to a 4. 3 is still used to establish a baseline in the K-12 arena to help determine the effectiveness of an AP class
Big Ben June 06, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Off hand, I know of no four-year college that accepts a 3 but I will concede that some may exist. 4 has been the cut off as far back as I can remember. I believe that the effectiveness of an AP Program is determined by the number and percentage of those enrolled who actually receive college credit. The big scam is the number of Spanish-speaking students who are enrolled in Spanish AP classes as a foreign language. Subtract these from the total of those scoring 4 or higher and you might come to the conclusion that the AP Program is little more than a boondoggle. Enrolling students to pump up numbers only fools those who want to be fooled.
Paige June 09, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Big Ben - It is interesting that you came to your conclusion about what I am happy with based on the fact that I do not agree with your comment about "going down the toilet". Thinking that good things are happening and thinking that there is nothing more we need to do are two very different things. There are so many facets to a quality, well rounded education. The administration, teachers, support staff, curriculum, course offerings, arts, athletics, extra curricular activities and setting education as a priority in the home all have an impact on student achievement. We do have more to do to bring New Milford Schools to where we want to be, but we are heading up, not down.


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