Letter to the Editor: Collingswood Schools State Report Card

Patch reader Joanna Mills sent us her analysis of the 2011 state report card for the Collingswood school district. Superintendent Scott Oswald offers his thoughts in a separate letter.

To the editor: 

While all eyes seem to be focused these days on the Collingswood High School basketball program and its coach, the school has once again fallen short academically, in some areas significantly, than the state average in all categories as reported in the Department of Education’s school report card for the 2010-11 school year.

The average SAT scores for Collingswood students were well below the average in all areas when compared to state scores as well as to neighboring high schools.

Here is a breakdown:

School Math Verbal Essay Total Collingswood 496 469 468 1433 Haddon Heights 497 488 474 1459 Audubon 506 487 480 1473 Haddon Township 511 494 480 1485 State Average 518 494 496 1508

The bad news for CHS doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. The percentage of students not testing at an advanced level on is even more disturbing.

School Language Arts
Percentage) Collingswood 11.4 16.1 Haddon Heights 13.9 29.2 Audubon 15.5 27.2 Haddon Township 31.7 31.9 State Average 21.2 25.7

The report also notes that students spend the second shortest amount of time in school as well as the second-shortest amount of instructional time compared to the same schools mentioned above.

As a way to increase instructional time, several area high schools have eliminated “homeroom” at the beginning of the school day. It is unknown if Collingswood has considered this step in addition to the schedule blocking and rotations which have been discussed.

In addition to its academic scores, student suspensions from school were well above the state rate. Collingswood (21 percent, State 13 percent). The Department of Education defines this part of their school report card as:

“These are percentages of students who were suspended at least once during the school year. Students suspended more than one time are counted once. The percents are calculated by dividing the total number suspended by the total enrollment.”

Lastly, Collingswood has the highest cost per pupil, $17,274 when compared to Audubon and Haddon Township and Haddon Height schools (state averages are not available).

Perhaps the administration, faculty and parents need to keep an eye on the academic ball instead of the basketball.

Joanna Mills

To view the full report, click here; a state guide to its interpretation is here. You can also read a response from Collingswood Superintendent Scott Oswald.

GFY June 07, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Maybe Mr. Oswald should focus on this rather than who is the basketball coach.
Bob G-man June 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Joanna, thank you for writing on this. Your last sentence was almost prescient, and the outcome sadly predictable (not the sentence itself, but what it illuminates). Right here on Patch we have (as of this writing) 119 comments on the "flag controversey", had probably a couple hundred on the basketball, and regarding achievement - supposedly what kids are in school for in the first place - virtually nothing. Did anybody even read the part (earlier story) about the school board voting to (finally, belatedly) ditch the horrid EveryDayMath curriculum and gravitate towards something more supportive of general mathematical competency (not to mention STEM)? Kudos to the curriculum committee and the superintendent for their work in that arena.
Joanna Mills June 11, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Bob - my, unfortunate, pleasure to write this.  I did notice the amount of posts that the flag controversy and the basketball coach articles had versus this subject. Sadly, it speaks for itself.  I honestly can't fault the administration or the faculty entirely and I can certainly understand how frustrating it can be for superintendent Oswald (see his reply).  A good education is composed of three main areas; dedicated teachers, a well designed curriculum and, most importantly, the involvement of parents.   What this and previous CHS report cards tell me is that: 1) while the faculty is dedicated and truly does their best they have reached their potential and 2) the vast majority of parents are NOT involved at the level they should be in the day to day progress of their son/daughter or what is and has been taking place at the school level (outside of extra circular activity) as evidenced by the lack of replies to this post and attendance at "normal" BOE meetings.  If the majority of parents truly cared they would be banging the door down, the phone lines would be jammed at the administration office, their kids would be grounded for poor grades and they would be looking hard in the mirror.  If average is the mid-point between the top and the bottom and CHS has scored less than average then the letter grade would be a C-.  If my child came home with that grade it would be end of basketball and everything else.  I propose that the high school be renamed to "C- HS".  
B June 11, 2012 at 07:02 PM
First of all, for some students a C is doing their best and I think it is incredibly ignorant to take a dig at these students. Second, report cards and state tests are completely different. It is quite easy to pull an A or B without really understanding the material, thus while our test scores are below average. To blame it all on the parents is just inaccurate and unfair. Also, I'm sure very few parents comment on the patch so to base it off what articles have comments does not make too much sense. But hey, I guess it's easier to tell others to look in the mirror as opposed to doing it yourself.
Shirley June 11, 2012 at 07:44 PM
What does the future hold for the child whose best is a C grade?
B June 11, 2012 at 08:00 PM
A neurosurgeon? No. But to say they can't have a successful and happy life because they get C's is also extremely ignorant.
Shirley June 11, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I'm not saying that grades determine a happy life. I AM curious to know what sort of future that child can look forward to. I should have specified 'employment future'. We have young people looking unsuccessfully for work who have newly minted BA degrees. What sort of work is available to the high school graduate? I am presuming that a C average would not open any college doors but concede that I may be wrong on that point.
B June 11, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Many students with a C average go to college every year.
Shirley June 11, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Thank you for clarifying that for me.


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