Camden school exams show gains, but still lag behind the rest of N.J.

"The achievement gap definitely still exists," says acting Superintendent Katrina McCombs.

David Madden
September 25, 2018 - 1:58 pm
The New Jersey Assembly and Senate Education Committees meeting in Cherry Hill.

Credit: Mike DeNardo

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Results from the latest series of tests show Camden’s public school students performing better than they have in past years, but they still have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of New Jersey. 

Student proficiency rates — that is, performing at their grade level — have gone up in each of the last three years, from 4.3 percent to 13 percent in math and 6.5 to 18 percent in English. 

That means "13 percent of kids can do math at grade level; 18 percent can read according to norms," said acting Superintendent Katrina McCombs.

She suggests those numbers be taken in context.

"While the gains are incremental, they are very modest, and when we compare results across the district to the state we see that the achievement gap definitely still exists," McCombs said.

The state averages are 59 percent in English and 46 percent in math. There are also marked differences within the district between traditional public schools and so-called Renaissance schools, private facilities opened since the state takeover of Camden's schools five years ago.

McCombs says part of that can be blamed on the age and condition of those older buildings that can sometimes hinder day-to-day teaching.