From today's New York Times Editorial Page:
The Massachusetts public schools consistently rank at or near the top in the nation for performance on the rigorous, federally backed math and reading exams known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The state has nonetheless struggled with how to improve chronically low-performing districts like the one in the impoverished former mill town of Lawrence.
That district ranked in the bottom 1 percent in the state based on math and English test scores when it was placed in receivership by the state education commissioner in fall 2011. There has been evident improvement in just two years, with high school graduation rates raising to 67 percent in 2014, up from 52 percent in 2011. If skillfully applied, this Massachusetts strategy could become a powerful school reform tool elsewhere as well.
And from today's Star-Ledger, with an explanatory note: N.J.'s 75 worst schools are called "Priority Schools and higher-performing but still struggling schools are called "Focus Schools." Trenton Public Schools District has 7 Focus Schools and 11 Priority Schools, which, vis our NCLB waiver, receive more attention and oversight. (Here's the full list.)
As seniors at Trenton High School West prepare to graduate, the school is about to be moved off the New Jersey Department of Education's list of "focus" schools with low graduation rates.
"I think part of that has to do in large with the commitment of staff on the West campus and the commitment of the parents," said Trenton Public School's Executive Director Kathleen Smallwood Johnson. "That whole partnership created what I believe was an environment that encourages academic achievement."
The school has been on the list for the past three years because less than 75 percent of seniors graduated each year. This school received specialized attention from the state Department of Education in an effort to get the graduation rate up.
As of June 30, the school will no longer have this classification.
Trenton's Robbins Elementary School, which was deemed a focus school for low performance, will also be removed from the classification, along with East Windsor's Walter C. Black and Ethel McKnight schools, which were on the list because of a large gap in scores between high-performing and low-performing students.