ARCHIVE FOR SEPTEMBER 2006
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION WORKING GROUP RELEASES FINAL REPORT (9/19/2006)
On September 14, the School Construction Working Group released its third and final report to the Governor. The report outlines actions that have been taken by the Schools Construction Corporation since its last report in May 2006, and makes recommendations on how to proceed with rebuilding the state’s school infrastructure.
Chief among these recommendations are the amount of funding necessary to complete the next round of school facilities projects and the order in which these projects should be completed. These were based on the work of the working group’s Prioratization Task Force, which devised a methodology for determining priority of projects in a manner consistent with the state’s education policy. Based on the task force’s methodology, the working group recommends that $2.5 billion be allocated to Abbott districts and $750 million be allocated to other districts, for a total of $3.25 billion in new funding.
Governor Corzine has approved previous funding requests by the SCC based on two conditions: 1) the SCC must demonstrate that it is capable of managing the additional funding appropriately, and 2) all such funding increases must meet the criteria of the Education Facilities and Construction Financing Act (EFCFA). The working group recommends that these two conditions continue to apply. It also recommends legislative action to create a new state authority to manage the school construction, and to provide for greater school district involvement in design and construction, greater involvement of municipalities in land acquisition, improved collaboration between the state, school districts and municipalities in the project approval process, more flexibility in the mechanisms and procurement options used to build schools, and regular progress reports to the Legislature..
Third Report to the Governor by the Interagency Working Group for School Construction (9/14/2006)
JERSEY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT NAMED BROAD PRIZE FINALIST (9/28/2006)
On September 19, the Broad Foundation named the Jersey City Public Schools as a finalist for its 2006 Broad Prize for Urban Education. This is the first time Jersey City has been named a finalist. It will receive $125,000 in college scholarships for graduating seniors.
Among the reasons cited by Broad in naming Jersey City a finalist were its consistent high performance in student achievement across six areas (elementary, middle and high school math and reading), and its many research-based best practices, including accelerated alignment with New Jersey’s core curriculum content standards. The district is also known, according to Broad, for effectively monitoring student progress and teacher effectiveness through the use of well-regarded methods, and is a strong proponent of whole school reform.
The Broad Prize honors large urban school districts that demonstrate overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps for poor and minority students. This year, 100 of the country’s largest school districts were eligible for the prize. The finalists were selected by a board of 16 education leaders after a review of data compiled and analyzed by the National Center for Educational Accountability.
Broad Prize Finalists: 2006 Jersey City Public School Overview (9/19/2006)
REPORT EXAMINS EFFECTS OF SCHOOL CHOICE IN SAN DIEGO (9/28/2006)
A recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) discusses the effects of school choice on student integration and achievement in the San Diego Unified School District. Utilizing an extensive student database compiled by PPIC and the district which enabled researchers to study impact on individual students, the report looks at 2003-04 enrollment figures in traditional and choice programs for the 2003-04 school year, characteristics of participants and whether their choice affected their academic achievement.
According to the report, San Diego has 28 percent of its students –what it calls “a rather high percentage”-- participating in one of four types of public school choice: a voluntary busing program, a magnet program, a state-mandated open enrollment program, and charter schools. The SDUSD is the second largest district in California and the eighth largest in the U.S.
The report concludes that choice programs are increasing the integration of whites and nonwhites, and decreasing slightly the integration of students with low and high test scores. It also concludes that there was no systemic improvement of test scores by students who chose to participate in choice programs. Finally, it concludes that physical safety and “higher socioeconomic settings” appear to play as much of a part in parents’ choice of a school as test scores. Summing up, the report says “At a minimum, the results from San Diego raise doubts about the ability of choice programs alone to increase the achievement of participants…[T]he watchword should be: ‘Proceed with caution.’”
Public Policy Institute of California: Does School Choice Work? (9/2006)
NCES ISSUES REPORT ON CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 100 LARGEST SCHOOL DISTRICTS (9/29/2006)
The National Council on Education Statistics has released a statistical analysis of the 100 largest public school districts in the United States and its jurisdictions. Using 2003-04 data, the report includes tables on teacher/student ratio, per-pupil expenditure, racial breakdown, students eligible for free or reduced price lunch, students attending charter schools or magnet schools, and students with individualized education programs (IEPs), among others.
Newark is the only New Jersey district to be included in the list, ranking 96th. It is cited in the “report highlights” as having the highest per-pupil expenditure of all of the districts, at $17,652 per year. The lowest was the Alpine School District, in American Fork, Utah, at $4,413. The states of Texas, California and Florida accounted for 41 percent of the largest districts, and overall, the 100 largest districts were responsible for the education of 23 percent of all public school students.
Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2003-04 (9/2006)