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 …

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 …

If We’re Really About Leveling the Academic Playing Field, We Need to Prioritize the Arts

(This is a guest post by Aggie Sung, a certified early education teacher whose passion is in children’s books that teach young learners to express themselves through art, words, and motion. Her books include “Mommy Duck.” She resides in Princeton, N.J.) Once upon a time, standardized tests were given to adults from all walks of life to prove themselves worthy of certain jobs that they would otherwise not be able to access. These original tests …

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 …

Is Integration Your Silver Bullet? Time to Get Real.

Last week I wrote a post about a report on N.J.’s segregated schools by Professor Gary Orfield et. al. which I found vacuous and flawed, particularly its conclusion that charter schools increase segregation because they cluster in districts that serve children of color. I noted that  “the reasons why more Black families are enthusiastic about charter school culture is beyond the scope of my blog post.” (Also, I’m not Black and, therefore, not an authentic …

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. …