What If We Held Traditional School to the Same Standards As Charter Schools?

The Star-Ledger reports that the International Academy of Trenton (IAT), a public charter school serving grades K-5, is being shut down for failing to meet student academic and social needs: Kimberley Harrington, then commissioner of the Department of Education, in a Jan. 12 letter to IAT said the state was not renewing the charter because the academy “failed to provide a strong educational program and sustained organizational stability.” A school performance report shows many students …

An Addendum to the Four Education Promises Gov. Murphy Can’t Keep

I have a piece in The 74 called “Four Education Promises New Jersey’s New Governor Can’t — or Shouldn’t — Keep.” If I had a time machine I’d ride back about two weeks (pre-deadline) and add a little more content to one of Governor Murphy’s promises, specifically the one he made to at the 2016 NJEA Convention (and other venues): When asked whether he’d follow NJEA’s instructions and get rid of assessments aligned with college/career …

Out-going DOE Deputy Commissioner On How New Jersey’s Recent Education Changes Help Students

(This is a guest post by Peter Shulman who was, until very recently, Deputy Commissioner of the Education for New Jersey. He helped drive policy to improve the academic achievement and life outcomes of approximately 1.4 million students. He directly supervised the Divisions of Talent, Performance, Information Technology and led education priorities including the development of a new comprehensive school accountability system under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.) Over the past 7 years, New …

What Can My District Do to Increase Parent Engagement?

I live in a township in the middle of New Jersey that’s home to a culturally and economically diverse school district. That’s not very common in this state’s highly segregated school system. My local stretch of U.S. Route 206 tells the tale: Driving north, you’ll first pass the inner-city school district of Trenton where 90 percent of students are economically disadvantaged (i.e., meet the requirements for free or reduced-price lunch, the government’s proxy for poverty), …

Correction to Betsy DeVos from a Public School Teacher: Reports of Common Core’s Demise Are Grossly Exaggerated

Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in what Chalkbeat calls “some of her most expansive public remarks since taking over the department last year,” slammed the Common Core State Standards during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. The Common Core is a set of state-led course objectives created by educators under the auspices of the National Governors Association. Said DeVos, “Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too …

Mark Weber, Bruce Baker, and Thomas Jefferson

Mark Weber, who blogs at Jersey Jazzman, has lately been focused on a study he wrote with his Rutgers professor Bruce Baker that tries to undermine a Harvard analysis of the impact of education reform in Newark. (Here are links to my views of the Harvard study and the Weber/Baker study.)  Quick recap: The Harvard professors show that, post-reforms,  Newark schools are providing better results for students, especially in English Language Arts (ELA); students’ year-to-year …

Lakewood Fiscal Monitor: “This Entire District, When it Comes to the Staff, I Would Say It’s a Culture of Fear.”

Once again Lakewood Public Schools has failed QSAC, formally known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum. That’s a mouthful but it’s pretty simple: every three years districts are rated — both by themselves and the state — on five areas of competency: Instruction and Program; Fiscal Management; Governance; Operations; and Personnel. In order to pass, districts have to get an 80 percent on every section and if they meet that mark they are categorized as …

Charter Schools Closing in on State Averages on Third Year of PARCC Testing: Newark Charters Outperform State Average in Math

New Jersey charter schools continue to narrow the achievement gap on the third year of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams based on data released this fall from the New Jersey Department of Education for the 2016-17 school year. “The release of PARCC scores confirms what we have known about New Jersey’s charter schools: they are closing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students and in some cases, outperforming the …

School Choice is Improving Prospects for Newark Schoolchildren But It’s Not Doing Much for Weber/Baker’s Analytical Acumen

In Wednesday’s NJ Spotlight, Mark Weber takes aim at two recent editorials, mine and Michele Mason’s, which cover different aspects of recent public school improvements in Newark, N.J.’s largest school district. Weber also uses the editorial to hype a new report he wrote with Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker (his dissertation advisor), published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) called “School District Reform in Newark and Impact of the Newark Education Reforms. The NEPC report by Weber/Baker, …

New Jersey Skated by for Years on Misleading Graduation Rates, But Now We’re Closing the “Honesty Gap”

Does it seem odd to you that we’re celebrating the fact that half of New Jersey’s third-graders are at or above grade level in language arts and math? If you’re puzzled by this exuberance—only half?—then you’re missing a critical piece of our state’s history: For decades we’ve been lying to ourselves, our families, our constituents and our children. While our high school graduation rates are traditionally sky-high and a source of great pride, we have …