Results show pandemic-related setbacks statewide in student learning with public charters best positioned to accelerate educational recovery
Last Friday, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released statewide assessment scores for the first time in three years due to extensive disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. While there were significant drops statewide, analysis shows that Black and Latino students enrolled in public charter schools in the six largest charter cities are twice as likely to be proficient in English language arts and mathematics compared to their district peers based on 2022 statewide assessment results. This data verifies that public charter schools accelerated student learning for low-income students of color during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic in Newark, Trenton, Paterson, Camden, Jersey City and Plainfield.
Analysis of test scores disaggregated by the six largest charter cities demonstrate similar findings, with students, on average, nearly twice as likely to meet proficiency on state assessments.
“The 2022 state assessment results are undeniable: Public charter schools are providing stable and welcoming learning environments that accelerate student learning for families of color. With this new data, NJDOE has the information they need to make the right decisions for students and families on charter school application decisions. Families can’t wait any longer and we must continue to invest in what works,” said Harry Lee, President of the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA). “Our charter leaders and teachers remain committed to meeting the immense challenges of this moment so that more students can recover socially, emotionally and academically.”
High-Performing Public Charter Schools Await Decisions
Last month, NJPCSA launched the #LetMyChildLearn campaign to inform elected officials and NJDOE to listen to the voices of tens of thousands of families seeking a better education for their children in Newark, Paterson, Trenton and beyond. The campaign includes highlighting the stories of families who are eager to remain at their current public charter school that they love with the approval of additional grade levels and the approval of expansion for additional seats at high performing public charter schools so that more families get access to a top-notch education that works for them. The release of 2022 test score data is additional evidence of the impact public charter schools are making for families throughout New Jersey.
In Trenton, Achievers Early College Prep Charter School was denied the ability to continue their high school program last year. They have reapplied to add a 10th grade next year. Current 9th graders at Achievers, who may not have a school next year, nearly beat the state average in ELA. High school students at Achievers outperformed their district peers by more than 37 points and are nearly four times as likely to be reading at grade level.
“My child has blossomed at our charter school in Trenton,” said Diana Martinez, a parent at Achievers Early College Prep. “She is currently on a path to receive her associate’s degree at the same time she receives her high school diploma. Sadly, this amazing opportunity can be ripped away from her if the New Jersey Department of Education does not allow the school we love to have their 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. We are hopeful that this year, they will get it right and allow my daughter to continue her education at Achievers Early College Prep.”
In Newark, North Star Academy Charter School continued to show why they are one of the best public schools in the country, outperforming the NJ state average by 15 points in ELA and 8 points in math.
“Our 6300 students in Newark have endured a traumatic pandemic, but their results are just one more proof point of their brilliance and ability to achieve at the highest levels,” said Julie Jackson, co-CEO of Uncommon Schools, which operates North Star Academy in Newark. “Our talented and dedicated educators responded to our students’ academic and social emotional needs. We met them where they were through culturally responsive teaching and infusing tutoring right into the school day to immediately target gaps we were seeing. Most importantly, we made sure our students felt heard, loved, supported and challenged and that their families were our partners every step of the way. Our students’ achievements show what is possible and why we believe in the power of a North Star education.”
Like Achievers’, North Star was denied a request last year to serve additional students in future years. However, with new test score data, the closure of University Heights Charter School in June, and the additional educational funding provided to Newark under the Murphy Administration in the last year, NJDOE has new information and data on North Star’s expansion request for this upcoming cycle.
More than a dozen public charter schools have applied to serve additional students throughout New Jersey. Decisions are expected by February 1, 2023.