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7-20-16 Education in the News

NPR National Public Radio via NJ Spotlight--Children in High-Poverty Freehold Borough Stranded on ‘Education Island’

New Jersey community is surrounded by wealthy neighbors, while many who live there are below poverty line

New Jersey’s Freehold Borough is a classic example of an educational “island district,” where the property tax base and thus available school funding is sharply different from that of a surrounding town. While 32 percent of the borough’s residents have incomes putting them below the poverty line, only 5 percent of those in Freehold Township do.

A report by nonprofit EdBuild, a think tank specializing in school finance, found 180 similar districts around the country. New Jersey has several because of a 19th century law allowing town centers to incorporate as boroughs.

When Freehold Borough did that, it was a commercial center, while the area around it was mostly farmland. Now, the borough has county offices and other institutions not subject to property tax, an influx of immigrants, including many young families, and little land open for development that might increase the tax base. The borough even has to pay its richer neighbors to bus some of its children to their schools.


NPR National Public Radio | July 20, 2016


Star Ledger--Senate Dems on tour to promote their version of a school spending reform plan

NEWARK — As part of an ongoing tour to tout their plan to reform education spending in New Jersey, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz hosted a roundtable Tuesday in one of the cities that would be hardest hit by the competing spending overhaul proposed by Gov. Chris Christie last month.

As part of a series of meetings to promote the "Formula for Success" plan, Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Ruiz (D-Essex), the chair of the Senate Education Committee, met with members of the NJ Association of School Administrators and officials from 15 school districts in Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Union, and Bergen Counties at the Rutgers-Newark campus.

The state senators were pushing a bill, S-2372, that proposes creating a commission to develop a school funding reform plan that would bring state aid levels up to the full amounts laid out in the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. The bill, which has been approved by the Senate Education Committee, would allow a five-year phase-in to get all districts in the state up to 100 percent funding


Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| July 19, 2016 at 5:54 PM, updated July 19, 2016 at 7:46 PM


Education Week--Should ESSA Jettison Proficiency Rates in School Accountability?

More than 40 testing researchers and education officials have signed onto a letter to Education Secretary John B. King Jr., calling for the Education Department to move away from using proficiency rates as the key measure of school accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

The researchers, led by Morgan Polikoff, an associate education professor at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, argue the Education Department should allow to use more nuanced methods to evaluate schools' effectiveness.

"A proficiency rate throws out all the data except 'yes' or 'no,'" Polikoff said. "A kid who is proficient plus one looks exactly the same as a kid who is proficient plus 1,000."

Using proficiency rates, Polikoff and the others argue, makes schools and teachers focus on so-called "bubble kids"—students near the proficiency cut-off, rather than ensuring students at all levels make academic progress. It can also put at a disadvantage schools that serve high concentrations of very low-performing students, because they do not get credit for students who make significant progress but still fail to meet the proficiency benchmark. 


Sarah D. Sparks on July 18, 2016 9:22 AM