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5-10-16 Education in the News

The Record--Feds: NJ graduation rates among best in nation

New Jersey high school graduation rates continue to be among the best in the nation, with 88.6 percent of students in the class of 2014 having earned their diplomas in four years, according to a new report released Monday.

“Building a Grad Nation,” shows that New Jersey students graduated at a rate higher than the national average of 82.3 percent, and that only Iowa and Nebraska had higher rates; Wisconsin’s was the same.

But as graduation rates climb annually, there’s growing concern about whether schools are genuinely preparing students for life after high school and meeting a high academic bar, and whether schools are doing enough to close achievement gaps.

The on-time graduation rate for low-income New Jersey students was 79.6 percent, compared with 92.4 percent for non-low income students.

The racial gap, which has narrowed since 2011, remains significant. Among African-American students, 78.9 percent graduated in four years. The figure was 80.6 percent for Hispanics, 93.5 percent for whites, and 96 percent for Asians. 

The report also tracked the number of “low-graduation-rate schools” – or schools enrolling 100 or more students with graduation rates of 67 percent or less. In New Jersey, 6 percent of regular high schools were “low-graduation schools.” The U.S. average was 7 percent.


By Hannan ADELY| staff writer | The Record| May 10, 2016

Montclair Times: State senator representing Montclair introduces new PARCC legislation

State Sen. Nia Gill is looking to make graduating from high school a little less complicated.

Gill, a Montclair resident who represents her hometown along with Clifton, East Orange, and Orange in the 34th District, has introduced legislation in the state Senate that would place a moratorium on the use of state assessments as a graduation requirement for public-school students until the 2020-2021 school year.

Currently, high school students from across New Jersey are able to meet the graduation requirement with scores from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams, or scores from the SAT, ACT or other alternative assessments. This legislation in particular addresses the New Jersey Board of Education proposal at its meeting last month to require PARCC's English Language Arts grade 10 and Algebra I end-of-course exams as the statewide assessment graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2021.

In her announcement, Gill (D-Essex) stated, "Suspending the use of state assessments as a graduation requirement during this transitional period will provide time for the various issues that schools have experienced with the new PARCC tests since their rollout to be addressed."

Gill stated that this legislation came after a state administrative law judge found that state education officials violated a state statute in implementing the PARCC tests as the new high school exit exam, but the judge did not provide a solution to deal with the matter.


By Ricardo Kaulessar| Staff Writer |  The Montclair Times| May 8, 2016

Washington Post—Blog:‘Big data’ was supposed to fix education. It didn’t. It’s time for ‘small data.’

For over a decade, “big data” and “analytics” have increasingly become a part of the education world. (Big data is a term used to describe data sets so large that they can only be analyzed by computers, and analytics is used to describe how the data is collected, analyzed and used.) Big data lovers believe the information can help policy-makers make systemic improvements in student outcomes — but, so far, that hasn’t happened. Here is a post about the problems with big data in education and about something new that could actually make a real difference: “small data.” What is it? Here’s the post by Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak.

Sahlberg, one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and educational practices, is a visiting professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”  The former director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation, Sahlberg has written a number of important posts for this blog, including “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools,” and “What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform.”

Hasak, based in Boston, is working to change public policies to better support youth who are disconnected from the labor market and disengaged from school. 


By Valerie Strauss May 9 at 12:55 PM