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5-9-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--School Performance Reports 101: What You Need to Know to Decode the Data

The state has released a treasure trove of data about all 2,500 public schools, but digging in is partly a matter of knowing where to look

As recently as a decade ago, the release of the New Jersey’s public-school report cards was a big deal, ballyhooed with press conferences and special sections in local newspapers that celebrated test scores and other achievements.

That was then. This is now: The decline of local newspapers, the rise of the Internet, and the sophistication of the data itself all contributed to Friday’s quiet announcement -- accompanied by a single press release -- that the state’s latest School Performance Reports for all 2,500-plus public schools were available online.

John Mooney | May 9, 2016


Star Ledger--N.J. settles lawsuit over high school graduation requirements

TRENTON — New Jersey's graduation requirements for current high school students will remain in effect, but students still scrambling to graduate this spring will have more protections under a settlement agreement finalized Friday. 

The state will allow districts to review last-resort portfolio appeals from seniors until Sept. 1, and students still appealing can walk in their graduation ceremonies if they have met all graduation requirements except the one for standardized testing, according to the settlement. 

The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the Education Law Center and American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of students and families challenging the state Department of Education's graduation requirements announced in 2014. 


Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | May 07, 2016 at 9:15 AM

Star Ledger--Is 20 minutes enough time to judge N.J. teachers?

Teacher pay has been a controversial subject in New Jersey for years. Today, in some districts, median teacher salaries are approaching six figures.

TRENTON — New Jersey teachers could spend less time under observation by their supervisors if a new proposal wins approval from the state Board of Education. 

In response to administrators' concerns about the amount of time spent on teacher evaluations, the state Department of Education is recommending reducing the minimum observation time for new teachers to three 20-minute sessions, Deputy Education Commissioner Peter Shulman said. 

Currently, teachers with one or two years of experience need to be observed three times for a total of 100 minutes: twice for at least 40 minutes and once for at least 20 minutes.

In reducing the administrative time spent on teacher observations — the proposal also calls for fewer observations of highly rated veteran teachers — the state would free up about 35 hours a year for administrators, allowing them to help teachers in the best way they see fit, Shulman said. 


Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| May 06, 2016 at 8:00 AM, updated May 06, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Star Ledger--Here is how every N.J. public high school did on the SAT

The average SAT score among New Jersey public high schools ranged from a high of 2,247 to a low of 940 in 2014-15, according to new data.

The average score across all high schools was 1,508 out of 2,400, a six-point drop from the year before

The state Department of Education released the SAT scores on Friday as part of its annual School Performance Reports, an array of data that includes test scores and other information about every public school in the state.

The SAT exam students took in 2014-15 had three sections — critical reading, mathematics and writing — each counting for 800 points.

Students at the Academy For Mathematics Science And Engineering in Morris County posted the highest average score, 2,247. The school of about 100 students is a selective, four-year academy for the students across Morris County. 


Stephen Stirling and Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| May 06, 2016 at 5:01 PM, updated May 06, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Education Week--ESSA Paves Way for Deeper Access to Wealth of K-12 Data

The Every Student Succeeds Act scales back the federal role when it comes to accountability and school improvement, and grants states and districts new flexibility in using federal funds. But, as part of its bipartisan grand bargain, it also bolsters some federal requirements in one key area: transparency.

ESSA, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, calls for states and districts to provide test scores for some vulnerable groups of students for the first time ever, including foster children, homeless students, and students from military families.

And, in addition to those outcomes, it requires states and districts to report on a variety of factors that help capture the types of instructional resources students have access to and whether they have qualified teachers, and a safe school environment.


By Alyson Klein| May 6, 2016


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