ARCHIVE FOR FEBRUARY 2007
GOVERNOR CORZINE SIGNS QSAC AMENDMENTS INTO LAW (2/1/2007)
On January 25, Governor Jon Corzine signed into law A3676/S2136, which amends certain provisions of the Quality Single Accountability Continuum Act (QSAC), and paves the way for adoption of regulations and evaluation of 15 school districts where the new system will be implemented this year.
The bill makes mostly minor changes in the law, and authorizes the Commissioner of Education to adopted implementing regulations on an expedited basis, without formal notice and comment, for a 12-month period. The regulations, including the QSAC evaluation instrument known as the District Performance Review (DPR), will be used to evaluate the performance of 15 school districts in coming weeks and months. Those districts include the three state-operated school districts, those designated “Level 2” districts under the former monitoring system, and those designated “in need of improvement” under No Child Left Behind. The evaluations are reportedly already underway.
New Jersey Legislature: A3676/S2136
Developing a Plan for Reestablishing Local Control in the State-Operated School Districts (2002)
New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC): 2006 Pilot Program Evaluation (2006)
CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS RELEASE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NCLB (2/9/2007)
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has released a report describing positive steps taken by states towards standards-based reform, asking how states can “build on and invest in these systems to promote innovation and advancement in a manner that can best improve student achievement and close achievement gaps,” and making recommendations for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
CCSSO makes the following recommendations for reauthorization:
1) Promote innovative models and reinvest peer review
2) Improve accountability determinations
3) Differentiate consequences for districts that miss Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) by a little versus a lot. Conversely, create a system of rewards for districts that exceed AYP. Improve assessment systems
4) Properly include students with disabilities
5) Properly include English language learners
6) Enhance teacher quality through the use of incentives, better professional development programs, and creating multiple ways to achieve subject matter expertise, and
7) Strengthen resources.
CCSSO says NCLB does not go far enough in any of these areas. It also says states should play a larger role in implementing these recommendations.
CCSSO: Recommendations to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (2/2007)
REPORT ON TAKEOVER OF PHILADELPHIA SCHOOLS SHOWS MIXED RESULTS (2/14/2007)
A new Rand Corporation report finds that, in the four years since the State of Pennsylvania took control of the Philadelphia schools, achievement gains in privately managed schools kept pace with, but did not exceed, those in other district schools. The study, co-authored by Brian Gill, Ron Zimmer, Jolley Christman, and Suzanne Blanc, looks at the 45 elementary and middle schools in Philadelphia thta were given extra money to be "privately managed."
The report states, "Philadelphia has seen substantial districtwide gains in the proportion of students achieving proficiency since the 2002 state takeover. But after four years, the gains of its low-achieving schools (most of the schools in the district) have generally not exceeded the gains of the low-achieving schools elsewhere in Pennsylvania." It goes on to say, "in sum...we find no evidence of differential academic benefits that would support the additional expenditures on private managers."
State Takeover, School Restructuring, Private Management, and Student Achievement in Philadelphia (2/2007)
NEW PAPER ON SCHOOL CHOICE AND PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AVAILABLE (2/15/2007)
A new paper examining the links between school choice and parental involvement, as shown in NCES data, has been made available by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE) at Teachers College, Columbia University. The study finds that parents of children in assigned public schools rank the lowest in parental involvement, and parents whose children attend private secular schools rank the highest, when measured by the number of school meetings or activities attended and the number of hours spent volunteering and fundraising.
The study author notes, however, that these measures provide only "observational data," and therefore do not provide sufficient evidence to establish a causal link between the school chosen and the amount of parental involvement. The author examines how parents choose a type of school and their satisfaction with that chosen school, allowing for "potential unobserved covariates" such as parent motivation or sociability. Using this model, he finds that more is at play thna the numbers first suggest: "The results of the more detailed analyses...suggest that the true effect of schools of choice on parent's behavior is more complicated." He goes on to say "It is important to keep in mind that the descriptive statistics [first noted] are not refuted by the subsequent results; rather the two types of analysis are answering different questions." The author leaves the door open for additional study on this point, stating that "perhaps more information about the relative ability of different types of schools to build strong parent communities can be gleaned either from the existing school choice randomization studies...or else from future experiments."
NCSPE: Choosing Schools, Building Communities? The Effect of Schools of Choice on Parental Involvement (2/1/2007)
NJDOE RELEASES 2006 SCHOOL REPORT CARDS (2/19/2007)
On Feb. 6, the NJDOE released the 2006 School Report Cards, its statistical profile of every public school in the state.
Each report card contains data on school environment (factors such as class size, instructional time, and classrooms with Internet connectivity); student information (including enrollment by grade, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency); student performance (including performance on state-mandated tests, SATs and AP tests, and other indicators such as graduation rate and attendance rate); staff information (including student/faculty ratio, faculty and administration credentials, faculty mobility rate, and information on highly qualified teachers); and financial information (including revenues, teacher and administrator salaries and benefits, and per-pupil expenditures). It also includes two years of NJASK 4 science results, the first year’s language arts literacy and math results from the NJASK tests for grades 5, 6, and 7, and SAT writing results.
Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy said that the main use of the report cards is to let each community evaluate its own schools, but also noted some statewide trends. Of note is the continued increase in overall enrollment (up nearly 4,000 from 2004-05 and more than 53,000 in the last five years), a significant increase in Hispanic enrollment (up almost 40,000 in the last five years); a nearly two percent increase in the statewide graduation rate (to 93.2 percent) but a decrease in the percent graduating via the Special Review Assessment (from about 15 percent to 12 percent); and an increase in the number of classrooms with Internet connections (to 98.7 percent).
New Jersey’s School Report Card (2/6/2007)
ACNJ RELEASES NEW JERSEY KIDS COUNT 2007 (2/20/2007)
The Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) has released New Jersey Kids Count 2007, its annual report and statistical analysis of the state of children in New Jersey. The report looks at a number of issues, including health, family structure, housing, child protection, and public education, and identifies areas in which the state is gaining ground, losing ground, and remaining stable. This year, for the first time, the report includes a section on the state of children under age six.
On the positive side, the report finds that for the second year in a row passing rates on state fourth-grade math tests significantly increased. This was true overall as well as for low-income students (those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch) and limited English proficient students. In 2002, 69 percent of all fourth graders passed the math assessment, including 45 percent of low-income fourth graders and 36 percent of those who were limited English proficient). In 2006, 82 percent of all fourth graders passed, while 68 percent and 55 percent of low-income and limited English proficient ones passed respectively. Also on the positive side, school violence incidents statewide decreased by 26 percent from 2001 to 2005, from 24,973 incidents to 18,409.
On the negative side, students with limited English proficiency passed state tests at markedly lower rates than others. Sixteen percent of limited English proficient eighth graders passed the state language arts test in 2006, compared to 51 percent of low-income students and 74 percent overall. Another negative is the decline in participation in the free and reduced-price lunch program between 2001 and 2006. While the number of eligible students has remained the same since 2001, the number of participating students fell by four percent in that time period.
New Jersey Kids Count 2007 (2/7/2007)
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS RELEASES REPORT ON TEACHER COMPENSATION (2/20/2007)
The Center for American Progress has issued a report on teacher compensation in charter and private schools and its relationship to teacher retention. The report, Teacher Compensation in Charter and Private Schools: Snapshots and Lessons for District Public Schools offers lessons for traditional public schools to help them more effectively attract and keep high-quality teachers.
According to the report, “Charter and private schools make much greater use of pay innovations than traditional public schools….” Those innovations include pay for performance non-financial rewards as a means of retention, and less use of salary scales to determine base pay. Rather than relying on the “rules and constraints that govern pay in traditional public schools, the report says charter and private schools appear “to use compensation as a tool to meet their goals.”
The report concludes with two implications for public schools. The first involves making teacher pay more performance and market-driven, through the use of pay-for-performance based on value-added test score growth, and higher pay for filling hard-to-staff positions or within hard-to-staff schools. The second suggests that policymakers “seek ways to bring the same kind of dynamism, experimentation, and flexibility that [exist]…in charter and private schools into the public school system” through the use of more flexible compensation regimes.
Teacher Compensation in Charter and Private Schools (2/2007)
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER MACINNES TO STEP DOWN (2/23/2007)
Earlier this month, NJDOE Assistant Commissioner for Abbott Implementation Gordon MacInnes submitted his resignation, effective March 30. The announcement comes as the state embarks on an overhaul of its school finance system, a process that could result in funding changes for the programs that MacInnes has overseen for the past five years. His statement announcing the resignation did not mention that overhaul, emphasizing instead his office’s accomplishments. In press reports, MacInnes cited his daily commute from Morristown as a primary reason for his decision to leave, and said he would like to “broaden [his] opportunities.”
Since joining NJDOE in 2002, MacInnes has focused the Department’s efforts on improved academic performance in the Abbott districts, emphasizing in particular early literacy and pre-kindergarten programs and creating the Department’s Secondary Education Initiative. He also has worked toward tightening budget review standards for Abbott districts seeking additional aid and project review standards for school construction projects.
Summing up these efforts and crediting the efforts of his staff, MacInnes said, “The work we have undertaken—however easy to describe—is difficult, complex, and takes time to pay off. Attracting and retaining talented colleagues is at the heart of the effort, and they have my permanent gratitude.”
NJDOE Press Release: Assistant Commissioner MacInness to Leave March 30 (2/13/2007)