By Jim Hague
reprinted with permission
The state Department of Education released its report card for the 2006 school
year and once again, the Weehawken school system received shining scores from
According to the state report cards released last Tuesday, the Weehawken's
schools that participated in the standardized state tests improved considerably.
The averages of the total number of students who passed the tests were much
higher than the state and Hudson County averages.
" Without a doubt, I'm very confident about what we're doing here," Weehawken
Superintendent of Schools Kevin McLellan said. "Without a doubt, we're way
above the state and county averages. It's a total community effort. It's the
dedication of the administration, staff, school board, the students and their
parents. It's really a credit to everyone. We haven't had negative test scores
in a long time and we feel that we can compete with any school district in the
state when it comes to academics."
Results of the state tests
McLellan broke down the scores that were released by the state, which include
special needs and bilingual students.
The state scores are really not reflective of what we need, because they use
the combined scores," McLellan said. "We break them down to exclude
the special needs and bilingual students in order to help us plan more efficiently
for the coming year and determine where we need help."
In the third grade, 82 percent of the overall students passed the language
test and 82.4 percent passed the math. But if you exclude the special needs
students, it becomes 93.5 passing the language test and 94.8 percent passing
In fourth grade, 83.8 percent of the overall student population received a
passing grade in language, 75.3 percent passed in math and 72.7 passed the
But the non-classified students passed at an average of 95 percent in language
and math and 90 percent in science.
Among the fifth graders, 83.5 percent passed in language and 84.8 percent passed
in math overall. The non-classified students passed at a rate of 95.3 percent
in language and 96.9 percent in match.
Among the sixth graders, an astonishing 89.2 percent passed in language and
91.6 percent passed in math among all students. The non-classified numbers
score to 94.3 percent in language and a whopping 98.6 percent in math.
We're obviously very pleased with our sixth grade numbers," McLellan said.
In the seventh grade, there is the only slight decline in average numbers.
The overall student population in seventh grade received report card totals
percent in language and 69.4 percent in math. However, the non-classified students
passed at a rate of 100 percent in language and 83 percent in math.
In eighth grade, the numbers are somewhat similar. The overall students passed
at a rate of 81.7 percent in language, 69 percent in math and 87.3 percent
in science. The non-classified numbers are 94.6 in language, 78.6 in math and
Only the fourth and eighth graders took the state-standardized science exam.
In the high school, where only 11th graders are tested, the students passed
at a rate of 89.1 percent in language and 81.2 percent in math. The non-classified
numbers are 100 percent in language and 96.1 percent in math.
The overall averages far exceed the state averages of 75 percent in language,
73 percent in math and 76 percent in science.
McLellan said that the district separates averages because the district does
not offer bilingual classes, only English as a second language (ESL) curriculum.
Since the new edict came from the state (courtesy of the No Child Left Behind
Act of 2002), we have to combine all," McLellan said. "But for us,
it gives us a better indication of what we have to do in the coming year."
McLellan said that Weehawken students are not prepped for the state standardized
tests in the regular classroom.
We don't emphasize it during the regular school day," McLellan said. "But
we have programs after school and on Saturday. If we feel that some student
should need the special help, then we mandate it. But during the day, we teach
curriculum and don't alter that. We don't do any test taking strategies. The
regular school day is set aside for regular education."
Board of Education President Richard Barsa was pleased with the state report
We're very proud of our test scores," Barsa said. "It shows that
we can compete with any district in the state. We have a great staff who work
and we offer small class size, which I think helps. We've had continued improvement
over the last few years and we're proud that we've been able to improve."