ARCHIVE FOR JANUARY 2007
EDUCATION WEEK RELEASES QUALITY COUNTS 2007 (1/8/2007)
This week, Education Week released its annual special edition entitled Quality Counts. This year’s issue, From Cradle to Career: Connecting American Education from Birth Through Adulthood, investigates the ways in which state education systems connect K-12 education with early-childhood learning, post-secondary schooling, and the world of work. Profiles of each state and the District of Columbia provide data in Ed Week’s Chance for Success Index. The index tracks 13 indicators, including percent of children who grow up in poverty, percent of children who have at least one parent with a college degree or a full-time job, and percent of children whose parents are fluent in English.
The index ranks New Jersey above the national average in all but two of the 13 indicators, parents fluent in English and kindergarten enrollment. It has enacted eight out of 15 policies that align the K-12 system with additional learning opportunities, ranking it in the middle group of states. In achievement indicators, which include test scores, test gains, graduation rates and other indicators, New Jersey ranks at or above the national average in every indicator. Of particular note is the state’s higher than average graduation rate (84.5 percent, compared to 69.6 percent nationally), high AP test scores (20 percent scored 3 or above, compared to 15.7 percent nationally), and higher than average number of students achieving advanced proficiency in eighth grade math (8.7 percent, compared to 5.6 percent nationally).
These and other rankings place New Jersey high in the Chances of Success Index, along with Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Quality Counts: From Cradle to Career: Connecting American Education From Birth Through Adulthood (1/4/2007)
NJDOE HOLDS HEARING ON COST REPORT AND ENGAGES EXPERTS TO REVIEW AND COMMENT (1/12/2007)
On December 18, the NJ Department of Education held three public hearings on its recently released Report on the Cost of Education, which calculates the per-pupil cost of meeting state education standards. At the hearings, members of the public (including the Institute’s Founding Director Professor Paul Tractenberg) had the opportunity to comment on the report, which was prepared by Allan Dupree of the NJDOE Division of Finance and John Augenblick and Justin Silverstein of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates. The Department also accepted written comments on the report through December 28, 2006.
The costs calculated in the report include 1) a “base” cost, reflecting the cost of educating a hypothetical student with no special needs, and 2) adjustments to the base cost that reflect additional programs and services required to serve special needs students, including special education students, those considered “at risk,” and English language learners.
To arrive at these figures, the report considers two methodologies that have been used by other states—the Successful School Districts (SSD) approach and the Professional Judgement Panels (PJP) approach. The results of the latter methodology form the basis of the report’s findings. According to the report, “the underlying assumption of the PJP approach is that all education service delivery costs—including a base cost and adjustments for students with special needs—can be determined by costing out those services that panels of New Jersey educators identify as being needed in hypothetical school districts.”
The release of the report drew a firestorm of criticism from advocacy groups and other interested parties. One among many criticisms was that the NJDOE suppressed the information in the report for four years (see Recent Developments dated 10/31/2006 and 7/21/2006).
One of the report’s sharpest critics was the Education Law Center, which represents the 350,000 urban student plaintiffs in Abbott v. Burke. The statement ELC submitted to NJDOE highlights many failings in the report, particularly those that ELC claims violate Abbott’s constitutional mandates.
On January 2, NJDOE announced that it had engaged three prominent educational experts to review and comment on the report. Professor Allan Odden of the University of Wisconsin (who served as court-appointed expert in the Abbott litigation), Professor Lawrence Picus of the University of Southern California, and Joseph Olchefske of the American Institutes of Research are scheduled to submit their comments by January 19.
The Department also announced that it will hold additional hearings in January and that it has launched a new page on its website entitled “Planning for a New School Funding Formula,” which includes the Report on the Cost of Education, an archived web cast of the three public hearings held on December 18 and related materials.
Report on the Cost of Education (12/12/2006)
Testimony of Paul Tractenberg regarding the NJDOE Cost Study (12/18/2006)
Web cast: Public School Funding Hearing (12/18/2006)
Education Law Center: NJDOE Cost Study Should Be Scrapped (12/18/2006)
NJDOE Press Release: DOE Retains Experts to Review Costs Report (1/2/2007)