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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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4-10-13 School Performance Reports Available to Public Online at Dept. of Education Website This Afternoon
Star Ledger - New N.J. school reports released by state education department; bring new rankings, data

The Record - State officials release comparative 'performance reports' for every NJ public school

Star Ledger - New N.J. school reports released by state education department; bring new rankings, data

By Jeanette Rundquist/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger on April 10, 2013 at 3:11 PM, updated April 10,2013 3:39 PM

TRENTON — New school performance reports released today by the state Department of Education include information for schools and parents across the state — including placing each school in a new "peer grouping" of 30 similar schools — but brought some potential surprises for schools with longstanding reputations for being at the top of the academic heap.

The new performance reports, which parents and schools can access online beginning today, replace the old "school report card" and include traditional information such as test score data, school enrollment and length of school day.

But they also include calculations intended to show things such as each school's college and career readiness — measuring "the degree to which students are demonstrating behaviors that are indicative of future attendance and/or success in college and careers" — and their graduation and post-secondary performance.

Then, the reports give each school a percentile ranking among their "peers" in those areas.


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The reports create some seeming contradictions. A high school may hit 100 percent of stated targets — but be placed in the 44th percentile among its peers in area such as "Graduation and Post Secondary."

The idea, according to the state, is to encourage all schools to improve.

"Every school in New Jersey has some area that needs improvement," the state said in a document prepared to explain the new reports. "The performance reports ... will assist every school in taking the next step for improvement."

The full state performance reports are available on the Department of Education website.

Star-ledger staff writers Jessica Calefati and Fred Kaimann contributed to this report

The Record - State officials release comparative 'performance reports' for every NJ public school

Wednesday, April 10, 2013    Last updated: Wednesday April 10, 2013, 3:50 PM


State officials released new “performance reports” on every New Jersey public school today, saying the new categories for student growth, absenteeism, success in advanced courses and other measures will give parents more information than the report cards of the past.

State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf has made overhauling the reports a major project in his push to boost the number of students who finish high school ready for college and careers. Some superintendents, however, complained the new format contained too many errors and unfair comparisons among schools that were not truly “peers.”

Click here to see the school performance reports

The state also released the Taxpayer’s Guide to Education Spending for 2011-12, which details total spending per pupil in each district. That figure includes transportation, debt service, federal funds and other costs, such as state payments for pensions. The average total spending per pupil statewide was $18,045 last year.

For the first time, the detailed “School Performance Reports” focus on comparing schools rather than whole districts. Each school is listed among a group of about 30 “peers” statewide that have roughly the same grade levels, as well as similar percentages of students who have special needs, speak limited English or are poor enough to qualify for subsidized lunch. Some districts have complained they were linked in these reports to schools with larger or wealthier student bodies, or that the comparisons will confuse parents.

In another key change, the reports now focus on a complex — and disputed — measure of students’ growth from one year to the next. That’s a big departure from previous report cards, which listed the percentage of students who passed state tests or scored as advanced (but did not attempt to track how much each school’s students changed over time.)

Commissioner Cerf acknowledged the new format was not perfect and said the data would become “cleaner” over time as districts learn the new requirements for submitting information to the state.

In comments to reporters Tuesday, he expressed confidence the new format would give parents and educators a more precise understanding of their schools’ strengths and weaknesses. While he intends to intervene in the lowest performing schools – as seen by his steps last month to take over the Camden system – he said school leaders and boards should use this data to find their own solutions.

New Jersey School Board President Larry Feinsod expressed optimism that the new reports “will make for an improvement over the previous report card format. However, they may require some getting used to.”

Email: brody@northjersey.com. on twitter @lesliebrody


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608