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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

North Warren BOE Examines State Testing Results

Principal Norcross-Murphy takes a question from board member Dr. Mary Ann Boyd on state testing results and the Response to Intervention (RTI) program. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 10/2023

The North Warren Regional School District board of education (BOE) convened its regular meeting on October 16th, 2023. A detailed presentation on the school’s recent New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) test results was given by Principal Carrie Norcross-Murphy and intervention counselor Terri Quinn.

In short, the summary of North Warren’s NJSLA Scores for 2023 serves as a comparison to the rest of the state.

The english language arts (ELA) portion was given to seventh, eighth and ninth grade students. The percentage of students exceeding or meeting expectations were:

● North Warren: 40%
● New Jersey: 54%

The math portion was given to seventh, eighth and ninth grade students.
Students were tested in seventh and eighth grade math, algebra 1 and geometry. The percentage of students exceeding or meeting expectations were:

● North Warren: 25%
● New Jersey: 33%

The science portion was given to eighth and 11th grade students. The percentage of students exceeding or meeting expectations were:

● North Warren: 26%
● New Jersey: 24%

Although the scores showed a slight improvement from last year, the school is still underperforming when compared to the rest of the state in ELA and math. Norcross-Murphy said the recent state testing scores were likely due to a number of factors, including that the NJSLA had not been given due to the pandemic for two years and, as a result, students were out of practice in taking a state-mandated test.

In comparison to other state testing where North Warren has historically done well, like the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA), Norcross-Murphy said that students may not recognize why the NJSLA is important and recommended more communication was needed.

“Since students need to pass the NJGPA in order to graduate high school, it ups the ante for our 11th graders and they take it [state testing] seriously, but not before then,” she said.

At the BOE’s last meeting, they reviewed the results of the spring 2023 NJGPA which reported that North Warren students performed better than the state average in two subjects. Ninety-three percent of North Warren students passed the ELA versus 81% of New Jersey students overall. In math, 69% of North Warren students met the cutoff score compared to 55% statewide. You can read more about that here.

In response to the performance of North Warren’s NJSLA test results in ELA and math, Norcross-Murphy and Quinn went over the interventions the school has in place for students who did not do well on the test or are struggling academically.

These include two marking periods of math and writing skills for seventh and eighth grade students and a more streamlined Response to Intervention (RTI) plan for teachers. RTI is a tiered system designed to identify where students are struggling early on and give them the support they need to succeed academically.

North Warren’s RTI supports include an intervention counselor who will meet with students, teachers and parents to oversee the implementation of intervention strategies, “push in” and “pull out” intervention with small group instruction and access to a reading intervention specialist.

In addition to streamlining the existing RTI plan, it was reported that National Honor Society students are offering tutoring during lunch and study hall periods and that beginning in November, the after-school tutoring program will again be available.

The tutoring program (which was available last year) offers students who need extra help, with one-to-one tutoring by certified teachers in math and science. The program will run from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the school and students will need to arrange transportation home.

When asked by a board member if any students had taken advantage of the program last year, Norcross-Murphy estimated that seven or eight students had used the tutoring program.

Concerned about North Warren’s state testing results in math, board member Dr. Kevin Brennan pointed out that according to the data, less than 50% of North Warren students were passing the math portion of the NJSLA.

“The target should be exceeding the expectation,” he said. “[The students] are not just in competition with Warren County, but Hunterdon [and] Morris. That’s the world we’re sending them into, and I’d be curious to see what those schools are doing.”

Superintendent Dr. Jeanene Dutt and Norcross-Murphy agreed.

“We’re scoring higher than average in the county but not on this [NJSLA state test]. We’re down in our staff numbers and that’s always in the back of my mind,” said Dutt. “The state has also changed the testing multiple times, we’ve gone from PARC, to NJASK and now NJSLA. But this time, we finally have some incredible instruments to analyze the data.”

The analysis plan includes having a grant-funded data analyst use the data from school level assessments to identify the skills that students struggle with the most, so adjustments can be made to the curriculum if necessary.

Before the board went into executive session, Brennan thanked the administration for “always looking outside typical sources of funding,” for the school.

After the meeting, Norcross-Murphy explained that another issue impacting scores was that each elementary school sending students to North Warren uses a different curriculum for math, so students are arriving at North Warren with vast differences in skills at the start of their seventh and eighth grade academic careers.

It was noted that Dr. Dutt continues to reach out to the elementary school sending districts and holds regular cluster superintendent meetings with them in an effort to ensure students have continued success once they reach the middle school.

North Warren provided the link to NJSLA practice tests which can be found on the New Jersey Assessments Resource Center webpage here:

Norcross-Murphy also recommended that parents keep an eye out for communication from the school when state testing was taking place.

The next meeting of the North Warren BOE will be held on November 13th at 6 p.m. at the school. For more information, including minutes and agendas please go to:

For detailed reports of how North Warren Regional has performed on these tests and to see them broken down with further statistics like grade, gender, race and so on, please visit:

As of this writing, the statistic breakdowns for the 2023 NJSLA were not available on the site.

Cybele Tamulonis
Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer

Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.