Sunday Leftovers

In a head-scratching move, the Fort Lee School Board may change its policy of allowing all students to sign up for A.P. courses because open enrollment has caused its ranking to drop in NJ Monthly’s Best High Schools list. My analysis of the list, in case you missed it, is here, at WHYY’s Newsworks.

The Record suggests that Paterson Public Schools disallowed a large number of students from taking last March’s HSPA’s in order to elevate the district’s academic performance.
Of the 1,115 juniors deemed eligible by the state to sit for the exam for the first time in March, the school district allowed 920, or 83 percent, to take it. In other words, about one student of every six who met the state's standard was disqualified — the largest percentage in the past four years and many more students than last year, when 94 percent of state-eligible students took the exam.
The article also says that Superintendent Donnie Evans’ continued employment “hinged, in part, on whether enough juniors scored proficient or above on the test.”

Nine new schools in Camden and Gloucester County have signed up with the state’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. The Courier Post profiles several districts, who see the program as a boon to both diversity and finances. Here’s the superintendent from Brooklawn:
“For older-ring suburbs such as ours, it’s a chance to reinvent ourselves,” Kellmayer explains. “We have to become multicultural and more sophisticated.”
About one-third of Brooklawn’s 365 elementary pupils are choice students. Since the district became the first in Camden County to test choice in 2001, minority enrollment has increased to 30 percent from less than 10, Kellmayer adds, in part because of an increase in the tiny borough’s Hispanic population."
The Star-Ledger examines the “summer slump,” where “the average kid has forgotten roughly the equivalent of a third of a school year, research shows.” It’s worse for poor kids. Spark Academy, one of Newark’s TEAM charter schools, started a new program that trains parents to maintain homework schedules over the summer, adds two weeks of summer school, and provides various incentives to promote retention.

NJ Spotlight reports on the opening of two hybrid online charter schools in Newark. NJEA filed a challenge to block the openings but an appeals court ruled against a stay, “saying its claims that there would be irreparable harm if the schools opened was 'purely speculative.'”

The Courier Post examines the “seismic shift” about to begin in Camden Public Schools after 23 of the district’s 26 schools were deemed “failing priority schools due to low student achievement” and oversight by the newly-established Regional Achievement Center gets underway.

Trenton Public Schools, says the Trenton Times,  is trying to address the low proficiency of student reading comprehension through a new districtwide program for K-8th grade kids. While test scores at the high school level have risen slightly over the last few years, younger kids seem stuck.
Just 26 percent of Trenton third-graders scored proficient on the NJ ASK test in the 2010-2011 school year, compared to the state average of 56 percent. Scores among middle schoolers were even worse — just 20 percent of seventh-graders scored proficient in language arts.
Alyson Klein at Edweek's Politics K-12 has a great write-up of Mitt Romney's education agenda and how the campaign is milking its emphasis on school choice.