RAHWAY—March brought the culmination of weeks of effort for the junior class and their teachers at Rahway High School.
Each March, New Jersey high school juniors take the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). The HSPA measures knowledge and skills in the Core Curriculum Content Standards, which describe what students need to know and be able to do to be a productive citizen, and to succeed on the job, in college, or in the military.
Students must pass the HSPA to graduate from high school. The HSPA tests both mathematics and language arts literacy. It was administered over a three-day period for approximately two and a half to three hours each day on Tuesday, March 2 through Thursday, March 5.
In order to enhance every student’s chance of passing the HSPA on the first try, Rahway teachers gave instruction before and after school twice a week during January and February. Students were encouraged to come to these classes if they had scored low last year on another test given to freshmen and sophomores during the HSPA administration.
Students with difficulties in both math and language arts faced a very long day with extra classes in both the morning (beginning at 7:15 a.m.) and afternoon (ending 3:15 p.m.) Students also used a computer program, Study Island, to enhance their skills, both during the classes and at home after school.
For students who were motivated, there was an opportunity to build skills and confidence. One student even showed up to the Technology Lab before school on the day of the test to warm up for the math test by doing a few problems on Study Island.
Others in the school worked to help students focus on doing their best. Kudos, the broadcasting class made an engaging video on how to do well and one English class worked together to create a PowerPoint on test tips for the school website.
Teachers for the prep classes found the process very rewarding. Tania Rojas, who is a civil engineer teaching technology, found it fun to teach math as did Maryjane Finne, who is the technology facilitator.
Denise Savarese, who is in her first year, taught language arts literacy and said going through the whole process from preparation through the exam gave her more perspective that will help in the future. A couple of her students told her after the test that the tricks and steps she had showed them helped in one way or another. All of said the reading narratives were extremely boring, which is understandable because test makers try to choose neutral passages. They do not want to give any students an advantage by having had a much experience reading in the area of the passage.
Finne’s math students found the multiple choice items not too bad, but the open ended ones more difficult. Everyone was very tired after the testing.
Now comes the long wait. In about two months, the school will receive students scores and they will know whether they need to put in more time in the fall to make sure they pass and graduate.
Rahway High School students Frantznel Relus and Roseline Stelus can now relax a bit after working hard to get ready for the recent High School Proficiency Assessment. Photo courtesy of Rahway High School
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