ARCHIVE FOR FEBRUARY 2006
CORZINE TRANSITION TEAM RELEASES REPORTS ON POLICY ISSUES (2/2/2006)
On Jan. 27, Governor Jon Corzine released reports from the 19 transition policy advisory groups that he convened to make recommendations on various policy issues.
Each report has analysis of current issues regarding the topic, and recommendations for the new governor. The public education report suggests establishing m ore rigorous curriculum standards; strengthening teacher and leadership education, recruitment and retention efforts; developing a plan to expand high quality preschool and full-day kindergarten to every school district; capping special education costs by executive order; establishing a statewide student database; and facilitating collaboration and coordination throughout the State Department of Education. The report also recommends creating a blue-ribbon panel to design a new, equitable statewide funding formula that “supports the integrity of the Abbott decision.”
Other reports that consider education policy and funding issues include those of the Transition Policy Groups on Property Tax Reform and Revitalizing and Investing in Communities. All 19 reports may be accessed from the link below.
Governor Corzine’s Transition Team Advisory Reports (1/27/2006)
NJDOE APPROVES SIX NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS, RENEWS 12 (2/2/2006)
On Jan. 23, the NJ Dept. of Education approved applications for six new charter schools. Two of the schools will begin operating in September 2006 and the remaining four in September 2007. In addition, NJDOE renewed the charters on 12 schools currently in operation. The new schools will be located in Corbin City, Franklin Township, Hackensack, Cherry Hill, Newark and Trenton. Once opened, they will bring the number of charter schools in the state to 57. For a complete list of the new and renewed schools, see the link to the press release below.
NJDOE Press Release: DOE Approves Six New Charter Schools, Renews 12 (2/1/2006)
STUDY FINDS D.C. VOUCHER SCHOOLS MORE RACIALLY INTEGRATED, BUT NO CHANGE IN STUDENT PERFORMANCE (2/3/2006)
A recent study of the voucher program in Washington, D.C. by the Manhattan Institute found that private schools that accept students using government tuition aid (vouchers) are slightly more racially integrated than public schools. According to the study, approximately half of the voucher schools had racially homogeneous student bodies (90 percent or higher of one race), as compared to 85 percent of D.C. public schools.
The study also found no effect of the voucher program on student performance in public schools.
The Manhattan Institute: An Evaluation of the Effect of D.C.’s Voucher Program on Public School Achievement and Racial Integration After One Year (1/2006)
Education Week: DC Schools that Take Vouchers Found to be Less Racially Isolated (1/25/2006)
STUDY REVEALS HOUSING EXPERIMENT HAS LITTLE EFFECT ON EDUCATION (2/3/2006)
A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals that a program that offered housing vouchers to enable people to move out of public housing within high-poverty areas has had little effect on academic achievement.
The study follows up on 2,300 families who participated in the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing program in the 1990’s. This program, part of a 10-year study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was created to study the effects on families who were given the opportunity to raise their children in better neighborhoods. It provided a lottery for housing vouchers that disadvantaged families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, could use to move out of public housing. The study by NBER found that while some psychological and physical stress was taken off the families as a result of their moves, four to seven years after leaving their old neighborhoods, the children’s school performance was no better than that of their peers who had remained in public housing.
Education Week: Housing Experiment for Poor Found to Lack School Payoff (1/25/2006)
National Bureau of Economic Research: Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment (1/2006)
NATIONAL EDUCATION DATA SUMMIT HELD (2/8/2006)
Last week a National Education Data Summit, co-sponsored by the National Governors Association, the U.S. Department of Education and the Florida Department of Education, in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign and others, was held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The summit brought together government officials and others to discuss ways to develop effective education data systems, and how these systems can improve educational outcomes.
Speakers included Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. Both agreed that data collection is of the utmost importance because it holds educators accountable. They urged states to do a better job of measuring where students are doing well and where they are falling behind.
Last year, governors from all fifty states adopted a common method of calculating graduation rates as a first step in creating a uniform system of data collection. Fourteen states received federal grants to develop longitudinal data collection systems, but according to the Data Quality Campaign, no state yet has in place what it considers the 10 essential elements that are critical to a data system. It has long been clear that New Jersey needs to improve its system of data collection and management (see the 2002 report by Phil Mackey, Using National Best Practices to Improve New Jersey’s Management of Education Data, written for the Institute). The recent report of the transition team on public education identified creating a student database as a top priority (see the Recent Development dated 2/2/06).
St. Petersburg Times: Spellings Urges States to Streamline Data on Education (2/2/2006)
By The Numbers: A National Education Data Summit
Newark Star-Ledger: Jersey Struggles With School Data (2/7/2006)
GOVERNOR ORDERS REVIEW AND REFORM OF SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION (2/9/2006)
On Feb. 7, Governor Corzine signed an executive order that created a new position of oversight for the Schools Construction Corporation (SCC) and an interagency working group to conduct a review of the program and recommend reforms.
Corzine named Scott Weiner, former Commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to the new position of Special Counsel, and Barry Zubrow, former Chief Administrator of Goldman Sachs, as chair of the SCC. Weiner and Zubrow, together with Acting Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy and State Treasurer Bradley Abelow will constitute the new working group, which will create recommendations on how to overhaul the SCC. The order directs these recommendations to be presented by March 15.
The SCC was formed in 2002, and has been the subject of an ongoing inquiry since that time regarding stalled projects and misuse of funds (see Recent Developments dated 10/11/2005, 11/17/2005, 12/22/2005, 1/5/2006 and 1/18/2006). Upon his election, Governor Corzine pledged that school construction would be a key priority for his administration.
Press Release: Corzine Signs Executive Order to Facilitate Review and Reform at Schools Construction Corporation (2/7/2006)
Star-Ledger: School Building Agency Retooled (2/8/2006)
BILLS INTRODUCED TO EXTEND DEADLINE FOR GOVERNOR'S BUDGET MESSAGE (2/9/2006)
State Senator Wayne Bryant and State Assemblyman Joseph Roberts have introduced bills to the New Jersey Legislature that extend the deadline for Governor Corzine’s annual budget message to no later than March 23. Traditionally, the Governor presents his budget before the fourth Tuesday in February, but new governors have been granted extensions, to give them time to review state revenue and expenditure.
New Jersey law states that the announcement of the amount of state aid available to school districts must be made within two days of the budget presentation. If the budget is not released until March 23, districts will not be notified of their state aid amounts until March 25.
N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-5 – Notification of Districts of Aid Payable; Budget Submissions
BUSH'S BUDGET CALLS FOR EDUCATION CUTS (2/10/2006)
President Bush’s budget, which was released on February 6, called for more than $3 billion in cuts in education funding. Included in the cuts were 42 federal education-related initiatives, such as the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program, which funds school technology, and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program. According to a U.S. Department of Education press release, the goal of the cuts was to eliminate programs viewed as “duplicative or unnecessary.”
The president has recommended that money for education be spent on programs such as the new American Competitiveness Initiative, intended to boost the quality of math and science instruction in the nation's schools by training as many as 100,000 full- and part-time teachers and increasing access for students to Advanced Placement and other college-level courses. He has also recommended expanding NCLB into secondary schools with a High School Reform program that would provide grants to assist students struggling to perform at grade level, and those at risk for dropping out of school.
Fiscal Year 2007 Budget
Press Release: Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Advances NCLB Implementation and Pinpoints Competitiveness (2/6/2006)
E-School News: Bush: Cut $3.2B From Education (2/7/2006)
PROFESSOR PAUL TRACTENBERG TESTIFIES BEFORE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ON QSAC (2/16/2006)
On Feb. 15, Paul Tractenberg, Rutgers Law Professor and Founding Director of the Institute on Education Law and Policy, presented testimony before the State Board of Education on the proposed regulations implementing the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC).
Professor Tractenberg prefaced his remarks by applauding the excellent work done by Acting Commissioner Davy and her staff in producing the draft regulations. “Except for some fine-tuning suggestions, the draft regulations have dealt about as well as they could with a statute that has some significant flaws. The Department's development and dissemination of draft Quality Performance Indicators will complete the picture of what can be done under the existing QSAC legislation, and will enable us all to identify necessary statutory changes," he said.
The full testimony is available on the Institute’s web site, at the link below.
Testimony of Professor Paul Tractenberg Before the New Jersey State Board of Education (2/15/2006)
HARVARD STUDY FINDS INCONSISTENCIES IN NCLB IMPLEMENTATION; BIPARTISAN STUDY COMMISSION FORMED (2/21/2006)
Two news items about the No Child Left Behind Act: First, on Feb. 17, a new study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project, The Unraveling of No Child Left Behind: How Negotiated Changes Transform the Law, was released. The study finds that states have negotiated with the U.S. Department of Education, and department officials have approved many, and frequently inconsistent, changes in state implementation requirements, so that no two states are now subject to the same requirements. According to the study, “allowing some states to ignore or change various elements without changing the law or communicating a clear alternative policy that school officials can reliably plan around may solve current political problems but undermines the relationships and the legitimacy of both the policy and the Department of Education.” Since NCLB took effect in 2001, a large number of high-performing schools and school districts have been identified as “in need of improvement,” which led states to seek changes in their standards and procedures for measuring compliance with the act. The report concludes that the negotiated changes have reduced the number of identified schools and districts.
Second, an independent, bipartisan commission is being created to look at NCLB implementation being implemented, The panel, to be co-chaired by former Georgia governor Roy Barnes and former Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson, will send recommendations to Congress in advance of NCLB’s reauthorization in 2007. In a recent interview, Thompson acknowledged that changes are needed in the law’s implementation.
The Unraveling of No Child Left Behind: How Negotiated Changes Transform the Law (2/2006)
USA Today: Bipartisan Panel to Study No Child Left Behind (2/13/2006)
ANNUAL REPORT FOR SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION RELEASED (2/21/2006)
On Feb. 16, the New Jersey Department of Education, in conjunction with the Schools Construction Corporation, released the 2005 annual report on the school facility construction program. Doing so fulfills the DOE’s obligations under the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act (EFCFA) and the New Jersey Supreme Court’s order issued December 19, 2005.
According to the letter from Acting Commissioner Lucille Davy transmitting the report to the Legislature, "As of January 2006, the SCC has managed 587 school facilities projects, including 354 Abbott health and safety projects. In the same time period, the SCC has provided funding grants for 798 facilities, including 59 Abbott facilities."
The report also includes cost estimates totaling over $60 million for construction projects that have been identified in districts’ Long Range Facilities Plans and approved by the NJDOE, but placed on hold due to lack of funding. The cost estimates for these projects total more than $60 million.
In 2000, EFCFA authorized $8.6 billion in state aid to school districts for the largest, most comprehensive school construction program in the nation. Districts submitted five-year long range plans to NJDOE’s Office of School Facilities, which approved the plans. In response to the cost estimates, SCC Chairman Barry L. Zubrow said that they should be considered highly speculative and not representative of actual budget dollars.
Annual Report School Facilities Construction Program FY 2005
RESEARCH BRIEF ON SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE (2/24/2006)
This week the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement released a research brief entitled “The Promise and Challenge of Supplemental Educational Services: The Providers' Perspective.” The report was based on a survey of providers of supplemental educational services, and highlighted a number of areas, including the finding that many providers of supplemental educational services employ certified teachers or others with college degrees as tutors, and most have low teacher-student ratios. Providers also indicated a “general level of frustration” with district administration, over such issues as parental notification, access to school buildings, and overall support, but have better interactions with state officials. To access the full research brief, use the link below.
The Promise and Challenge of Supplemental Educational Services: The Provider's Perspective (11/2005)
REPORT SAYS NEW JERSEY STUDENTS FACE PREPARATION GAP (2/27/2006)
A recent study by the Washington, D.C.-based Achieve, Inc. finds that New Jersey, along with most other states, is not doing enough to prepare high school students for college and work. The report indicated that although New Jersey is making some improvements to its standards, it needs to set more rigorous high school standards, particularly in math and science, and needs to have more useful standardized tests.
The study sought to determine which states have longitudinal data systems in place that can track students from kindergarten through high school, calling such systems “a prerequisite for a strong high school and postsecondary accountability system.” It found that only three states (Texas, Louisiana and Florida) have such systems in place, and 31 others (including New Jersey) are planning to implement them in the future. (For more on this topic, see the recent development dated 2/8/2006.)
Closing the Expectations Gap 2006 (2/2006)
STUDY ON CLEVELAND VOUCHER PROGRAM FINDS LITTLE EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGE (2/28/2006)
A new study issued by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education finds that students attending private schools with vouchers from the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring program showed test scores equal to those of students in public schools. In the case of math, participating students performed slightly worse than public school students.
The study, entitled “The Evidence of Education Vouchers: An Application to the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program,” is the third stage of research on the program. Earlier stages were related to theoretical models for developing a voucher program, and feasibility for such a program.
The Cleveland voucher program, launched in 1995, is state-financed and provides students with tuition vouchers to attend private schools of their choice. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program against a First Amendment challenge in its 2002 decision, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.
Education Week: No Test-Score Edge Found for Cleveland Voucher Students (2/22/2006)
The Evidence of Education Vouchers (1/2006)