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Livingston Teacher Advances Research on Standardized Testing

'It’s being used as a tool so it’s important to know what affects performance,' Dorian Gemellaro said.

fifth-grade teacher Dorian Gemellaro at Burnet Hill Elementary School. Photo Courtesy of Livingston Public School.
fifth-grade teacher Dorian Gemellaro at Burnet Hill Elementary School. Photo Courtesy of Livingston Public School.
Written by Marilyn Joyce Lehren

As the science guru at Burnet Hill Elementary School, fifth-grade teacher Dorian Gemellaro is putting her skills to practice as she advances the scholarly research on standardized testing.
 
Advanced statistics isn’t the usual repertoire in elementary school classrooms. Add two young children and a sticky laptop, and you begin to fully understand the achievement of Gemellaro, who earned her PhD last spring from Seton Hall University.
 
With No Child Left Behind requiring improvements in student achievements, Gemellaro looked at the relationship between fifth-grade test scores and the NJ School Report Card. She chose to compare the variables with the NJ ASK (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge), which is the standards-based assessment by which achievement is quantified in the state.
 
“It’s being used as a tool so it’s important to know what affects performance,” Gemellaro said, particularly as New Jersey increases its reliance on its results for teacher reviews, school ratings, and how students are grouped by ability in subjects like math, known as tracking or leveling.
 
The results of the study are being published in the Fall issue of the American Association of School Administrators Journal of Scholarship and Practice.
 
The results? Attendance, class size. It all matters. Scores are most influenced by socioeconomic status, as measured by eligibility for free or reduced lunch, Gemellaro found. 
 
She also advanced the vast body of research by showing that instructional time had a statistically significant influence on NJ ASK 5 scores in both math and language arts

Marilyn Joyce Lehren is the manager of communications/community outreach for Livingston Public Schools. Follow on Twitter at #LivSchools, or on Facebook  at Livingston Public Schools

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