Quote of the DayApril 4, 2013
Letter of the Day: How to Get Past the “Widget Effect”April 8, 2013
Today’s Press of Atlantic City reports that Atlantic Human Resources, a non-profit which runs 20 Head Start publicly-funded preschools in South Jersey, is “relinquishing control “ after an investigation found that the preschools weren’t meeting federal standards. Violations include lack of toilet paper and food products. An employee said that one center hadn’t had its trash picked up in a month and that “mice have been seen running through the rooms during the day, such as during the children’s nap time.”
In case you missed it, here’s my WHYY post last week on NJ preschool programs.
NJ Spotlight reports that “nearly forty” applications were filed with the State this week for new charters.
The Star-Ledger has an update on the long-overdue State School Report Cards.
In The Record, Bill Gates warns against moving too quickly, and without teacher buy-in, on new evaluative metrics.
Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure…If we aren’t careful to build a system that provides feedback and that teachers trust, this opportunity to dramatically improve the U.S. education system will be wasted.
And Margaret Spelling, former U.S. Education Sec., warns of a “monopoly of mediocrity” and cites NJ’s mixed results:
Student achievement in New Jersey schools is evidence of hard work and perseverance in the Garden State. According to the Nation’s Report Card, New Jersey ranks second in the United States in overall fourth- and eighth-grade reading achievement. The state has a four-year high school graduation rate of 86.5 percent.
Good news — but not nearly good enough.
Unfortunately, New Jersey also has some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation
From the Trenton Times: 8 Mercer County districts will see their debt service costs “skyrocket” this year. In Ewing, for example, “[t]he district is paying off its regular operating district grants, which it uses to improve facilities, Ewing schools superintendent Michael Nitti said.
“The state is, in essence, now treating our SDA grants as partial loans instead of grants,” Nitti said. “The amount of each school district’s SDA assessment is directly related to the amount of grants that they received from the SDA.”
Poor Trenton (also in Mercer County): turns out that the district’s new language arts supervisor changed student answers on standardized tests to improve school test scores while working in her former district.(Trenton Times.)
Also in the Trenton Times, the Editorial Board praises Trenton’s Foundation Academy Charter School where, according to co-founder Ronald Brady, “every single one of our students, regardless of their background or whether they’re three levels behind when they arrive, receives a college preparatory education. They’re all on the college track. We expect that every one of them will go.” Other charters in Trenton have done poorly; one difference at Foundation is an extended school day and, also, teachers are available every day by cell phone from first thing in the morning til 9 at night.
Piscataway wants to pay charter schools less for local students who attend.
The Courier-Post covers the “heated” NJ Spotlight roundtable on Camden’s plans for five new charter schools under the auspices of the Urban Hope Act. Here’s my coverage. In the Star-Ledger, one of the panelists at the Roundtable, LEAP Academy founder Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, opines on the necessary changes for this devastated school district. The Philadelphia Inquirer examines the mixed results of state takeovers in Paterson, Jersey City, and Newark.