Sunday Leftovers

Here's New Jersey Monthly's annual list of high school rankings. There's been changes in methodology, including better data on graduation rates and a stronger emphasis on attendance at 4-year colleges. Go here for other info, plus links to ranking within DFG's and alphabetical listings. The Star-Ledger coverage notes that this year's rankings reveal "a new self-selecting way of testing into NJ's academic elite": our county-wide magnet and vocational schools.

NJ students did the State proud on the ACT exam, topping national benchmarks for average scores. 67% met standards in math, 43% did so in science, 81% did so in English, and 67% did so in reading.

The Record looks at one of the peculiarities of NJ’s school funding system, where the cost to districts who send students to a regional school is based not on enrollment but on property values. So, for instance, Harvey Cedars, a borough in Ocean County, will pay $240,775 this year  for each of its nine students to the Southern Regional School District. “’We rely way too heavily on property taxes to fund education,’ said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus, who sits on the Assembly Education Committee. ‘If we truly do want to consolidate, we’re going to have to figure out a better way.’”

The Record interviews several Passaic County superintendents on the new teacher tenure reform bill; they don’t think it promises any meaningful change. William Petrick, superintendent of Little Falls School District, says “it's a compromise bill that waters down the original intention of the governor. But that doesn't matter because no law, not matter how well-written and intended it might be, will ever be able to address the dysfunction that plagues public education, in my opinion."

The Asbury Park Press examines a new trend in NJ public schools: summer credit recovery classes held online: “It’s the digital age. Kids like it online, because they can be on the beach doing homework, they can be anywhere. Kids are looking for online classes,” said Triantafillos “Tommy” Parlapanides, superintendent of Central Regional School District in Berkeley Township.

The Camden School Board just announced that it will outsource substitute teachers because of “extensive teacher absenteeism in Camden classrooms” and “a shallow pool of qualified substitute applicants,” reports the Courier Post. Also in the article, NJ School Boards confirms an increasing trend among NJ schools to turn to private vendors for certain needs. “The NJSBA most recently researched the trend in November 2009, when a survey found school districts were saving at least $38.8 million annually through private vendors. The survey represented about 40 percent of the state’s districts.”

From the Star Ledger: “The state Department of Education is investigating alleged testing security breaches in 27 school districts, ranging from teachers accused of coaching students on how to write an essay, to those who wrongly handed out calculators or dictionaries, according to documents obtained from the state. The cases stem from this spring’s NJ ASK tests, given to students in grades 3-8, and the High School Proficiency Assessment and Alternative High School Assessment.”

In case you missed it, here's this week's post at WHYY: the Romney/Ryan education platform meets Chris Christie.