Important Dates Ahead:
First day of school: September 5
Back to School Night: September 13
Next regular Board of Education meeting: September 25
For teachers and parents alike, it’s the Back to School Sale calm before the school year storm.
In the August 22 meeting of Knowlton Elementary’s Board of Education, at least one teacher was busy preparing materials and posters while the board discussed plans for the year ahead.
School Business Administrator Michael Brennan related a number of completed improvements to the school’s facilities.
Staff and students can look forward to a fresh paint job in the East Wing, clean carpet in all classrooms, and a newly waxed gym floor.
One specific improvement inspired a gentle cheer from those present: a repaved parking lot. Until recently, one particular depression in the parking lot’s asphalt had been so deep, it inspired joking comparisons to a kiddie pool.
All present were relieved to hear that the parking lot had been repaved, eliminating that glaring dip. The board hopes to have the fresh asphalt restriped before staff return for in-service on August 30. If all goes well, the end result will be a revamped lot with expanded parking space and more room in the drop-off and pick-up areas for parents.
Another change will see Knowlton participating in an important national effort, even if it might inspire groans in some students. For the first time in at least three years, Knowlton will administer the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, to its 4th grade students.
NAEP is a project of the National Center for Education Research (NCER), an entity within the federal Department of Education. Every year since 1969, NCER selects a nationwide sample of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 to take what its website calls “the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.”
Students may be relieved to hear that unlike every other assessment they take, the test does not calculate results for individual students. They will never know how high they scored, and neither will teachers or researchers.
Instead of individual score reports, researchers compile the data to create the Nation’s Report Card. This report aims to provide an overall picture of the nation’s academic performance, with a state-by-state comparison available as well. Federal and state policymakers use these findings to assess the effectiveness of schools and curricula and, if needed, implement changes.
Though usually administered every year, Covid brought a halt to NAEP testing from 2020 to 2021. When it returned in 2022, the data showed an alarming nationwide drop in every age group’s test scores across all subject areas.
More than usual, all eyes are now fixed on NAEP results as educators and policymakers hope to see a recovery from pandemic-inflicted learning loss.
Fourth grade students will take either the math or reading portion of NAEP (not both) in mid-February 2024. The assessment will take up to 60 minutes.
Parents can find more information, including sample questions and past NCER reports, at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.
Chip O'Chang, Contributing Writer
Chip O'Chang is an educator, fiction writer, and lifelong resident of New Jersey. He has also written for My Life Publications and NJ Indy. He lives in the NJ Skylands with his partner, two cats, and and a bearded dragon.