ARCHIVE FOR APRIL 2007
ACNJ ISSUES KIDS COUNT COUNTY DATA (4/13/2007)
The Association for Children of New Jersey has released its Kids Count County Data for 2007, with statistical data on the well-being of children in each county in the state. This publication supplements ACNJ’s statewide Kids Count report, issued in February.
The data, from 2005, include 15 measures of child health, safety, education, and economics, and an index of overall child well-being. Hunterdon County ranks the highest of the state’s 21 counties, with Morris and Somerset at second and third. Cumberland ranks the lowest, with Salem and Atlantic slightly higher. ACNJ notes that there was little change in the ranking between last year’s report and this one. Passaic and Cape May showed the most improvement, with each showing improvement in half of the 15 indicators.
In education, the counties follow their ranking—in 2005-06, 93 percent of third graders in Hunterdon County passed state achievement tests, while just 73 percent of those in Cumberland County did so. The state average on this indicator was 85 percent. ACNJ credits rising third grade test scores in part to increased enrollment of three- and four-year-olds in high quality preschool programs throughout the state.
New Jersey Kids Count County Data (4/4/2007)
GAO RELEASES REPORT ON NCLB (4/16/2007)
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released copies of its testimony before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, with information from its July 2006 report on assessment requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as they pertain to students with limited English proficiency (LEP). The testimony and the report, entitled “Education Assistance Could Help States Better Measure Progress of Students with Limited English Proficiency,” present data from 48 states and note that in the 2003-04 school year, LEP students in nearly two-thirds of the states did not meet proficiency levels in language arts or mathematics. In that year, there were an estimated 5 million LEP students enrolled in U.S. public schools, making up approximately 10 percent of the total student population.
GAO makes four recommendations: (1) USDOE should support research on appropriate accommodations and disseminate information on research-based accommodations, (2) it should determine what technical assistance states need to implement valid and reliable assessments of LEP students and provide such assistance, (3) it should publish additional guidance on requirements for assessing English language proficiency and tracking student progress, and (4) it should explore ways to provide additional flexibility in holding states accountable for LEP students. According to the report, USDOE has said it agrees with the first three recommendations and has taken steps to address them, and has not expressly agreed or disagreed with the fourth, although its January 2007 “blueprint” for strengthening NCLB calls for recognizing schools that make significant progress in moving students toward English proficiency.
Government Office of Accountability: No Child Left Behind – Education Assistance Could Help States Better Measure Progress With Students of Limited English Proficiency (4/2007)
NCSPE RELEASES ARTICLE ON VOUCHERS (4/26/2007)
The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, has released Irreconcilable Differences? Education Vouchers and the Suburban Response, by Chad d’Entremont and Luis Huerta, in which the authors discuss “the limited use of education vouchers in an area of unprecedented growth in school choice.”
The article first describes various barriers—policy, political and legal—that may limit the expansion of large-scale voucher programs: “We discuss how recent evidence of voucher effectiveness is mixed and without conclusive findings, present political and ideological arguments that may hinder the successful passage of voucher legislation, and identify legal barriers contained within state constitutions that may challenge program implementation.” It then discusses voucher advocates’ efforts of to build support by appealing to “historically marginalized populations” who are open to private school choice, having long been frustrated by the performance of public schools, and suburban parents’ concerns about vouchers. “We consider the consequences of these strategies and suggest that the very voucher programs that appeal to disadvantaged families may prove most offensive to middle-class and suburban voters who vigorously object to policies that undermine local authority and redistribute local resources.”
The authors conclude that “suburban parents may perceive education policies that lead to large-scale integration as an attack on local control, private investments, social values, and public school quality,” and suggest that these sources of resistance may do more to hinder the growth of vouchers than more frequently cited policy, political and legal objections.
NCSPE: Irreconcilable Differences? Education Vouchers and the Suburban Response (2007)