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 …

Freehold, SOS-NJ, and Valerie Strauss: An Example of the Proliferation of Fake News

You know fake news is being normalized when an organization that flaunts its supposedly grassroots progressive pedigree engages in Trumpery. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But Save Our Schools-NJ really needs to check its facts before it misleads its followers about New Jersey high school graduation requirements. Here’s the timeline. On November 21st, Charles Sampson, the Superintendent of Freehold Regional High School District, posted a piece on the district website that (still!) says, NJs …

Beverly City Schools Makes “Incredible Progress” By Using Data to Focus on Kids

(This post is by Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers, and originally appeared in Huffington Post.) I visit many schools across the country. I get to talk with teachers and hear about their incredible students. I meet with students and hear about their big dreams for the future. I also get to talk with school and district administrators. Those conversations usually focus on what’s working well and what’s not working so well. …

“For the Camden Teachers’ Union, It’s Politics as Usual”: A Response to an Attack on Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard

I’ve written about  Keith Benson before, president of the Camden Education Association and and paranoid conspiracy theorist who claims that the terrorist attack on 9/11 was a massive government plot and that that public school reform is a conspiracy among money-grubbing reformers and “oppressed natives” who are afflicted with a “psychosis” that leads them“to improve their own subjugated standing by attempting to join the ranks of those who do the oppressing.” (See here and here.) …

Announcing (drumroll, please) the #GraduateReadyNJ Initiative!

We know what it takes for all New Jersey students to graduate ready for a successful future, whether college or career. While many students and schools in New Jersey are successful, data shows that: 70% of those in New Jersey who enroll in two-year colleges and 30% in traditional four-year colleges take remedial classes. Less than half of New Jersey students are at grade level in reading and math.  The Pentagon estimates that 71% of Americans aged 17 to 24 would fail to qualify for military service. …

“Significant Reforms” Drive Newark Students’ Steady Academic Gains

We are very encouraged by results that show our students continue to make steady gains, especially when comparing their results to students in other cities. This data shows us that while there remains progress to be made, thousands more Newark students are reading and doing math on grade level today than just a few years ago, and that these students have a better chance at attending college and pursuing a meaningful career when they leave …

Was Lakewood Board of Education’s Hiring of Attorney Inzelbuch Legal? NJ Attorney General Says “Maybe Not.”

The letter below was sent to me by a kind reader who wishes to remain anonymous. This letter was procured from Lakewood Public Schools under the Freedom of Information Act. It is addressed to Lakewood’s superintendent Laura Winters and Board President Moshe Bender, and references the Board’s recent hiring of attorney Michael Inzelbuch at $600,000 per year, plus numerous benefits. For background, see this post where  I catalogue the Board’s disregard of the rules of …