West Caldwell Tech Named 2012 Blue Ribbon School
- School: West Caldwell Tech
- Award: 2012 Blue Ribbon School
In a ceremony held on Thursday, November 20, at the Hall of Records, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders highlighted excellence in the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools by honoring West Caldwell Tech for being named a 2012 “Blue Ribbon School” by the U. S. Department of Education.
The Board’s commendation was sponsored and presented by Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold of Livingston.
Freeholder Sebold opened the ceremony by saying, “Tonight I am delighted to honor a special school in our Essex County Vocational Technical School District, and especially because education is so dear to my heart; I was an English teacher for 30 years and also served six years on the Vo-Tech Board of Education.”
West Caldwell Tech is the second high school in the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District to be named a “National Blue Ribbon School” by the U. S. Department of Education (Bloomfield Tech was honored in 2009). The U.S. Department of Education named 269 schools across the nation as 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools, and West Caldwell Tech was one of only 17 schools in New Jersey to be so named, and the only school in Essex County to receive this prestigious recognition.
The school was specifically honored for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels, an accomplishment that is all the more impressive because a vast majority of the students enrolled in the school are classified as special education students. The improvement in High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) results has been dramatic, especially in light of the fact that HPSA proficiency rates in both math and language arts was 0% in 2004. Beginning in 2007, however, the scores have steadily improved: Math rates increased to 23.7% in 2007 and to a very impressive 85% in 2012; and Language Arts rates increased from 23.7% in 2007 to an astounding 97.5% in 2012. These improvements can be credited in part to new strategies instituted at the school under the leadership of its Principal, Mr. Chetram Singh, including: the attendance of students identified as needing extra help at a 5-week summer program; the extension of the school day from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM; and weekly meetings of administrative and teaching staffs to assess each student’s progress and to intervene with specialized help at an early stage when needed.
West Caldwell Tech has an enrollment of 325 students who are offered a wide range of programs, including: Cosmetology, Retail Careers, Automotive Technology, Culinary Arts, Business Technology, Agriscience, Digital Communications and Mobile Application Development. The Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District, founded in 1914, is the oldest in New Jersey, and has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students at four high schools: Bloomfield Tech, Newark Tech, North 13th Street Tech and West Caldwell Tech. The District offers high level state-of-the-art career and technical skill development opportunities in more than 25 career areas, and is led by Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Pennella.
Dr. Pennella introduced the West Caldwell Tech staff by saying, “These improvements didn’t occur overnight, it took a lot of work. Not long ago, West Caldwell Tech was classified as a consistently failing school, and now to be declared a ‘Blue Ribbon’ school is a fantastic achievement, and we are just so proud of them.” Principal Chetram Singh added, “We are a very strong family at West Caldwell Tech, and we really enjoy working with our students and our colleagues. It is an honor to be recognized as a ‘Blue Ribbon’ school and to be honored by the Freeholders. Thank you very much.” Mr. Singh was accompanied by staff members Dicxiana Carbonell, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, and Boaz Laor, Supervisor of Student Achievement.