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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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Trenton, New Jersey 08608


8-25-16 Education in the News

Star Ledger--For Newark schools, strange bedfellows could help put state control to rest

NEWARK — As a controversial former education commissioner under Gov. Chris Christie, Christopher Cerf was viewed with some skepticism in Newark after being named by the governor as the latest in a string of state-appointed superintendents to run New Jersey's largest school district while it remained under state control.

Among those skeptics was Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, a former teacher and school principal who had worked in the district before and after the state took control in 1995 with the intention of improving chronic poor performance by students as well incompetence and corruption among district officials.

Since the takeover, some locals have been suspicious even of the motives of state control, mindful that administrating the education of 50,000 students offered ample opportunity to award patronage jobs and lucrative contracts to friends and supporters.

"I was one of them," Baraka said in a recent interview.


Steve Strunsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| on August 25, 2016 at 7:15 AM


Star Ledger--Christie's 'catastrophic' funding plan also kills preschool | Editorial

There are very few unchallenged successes in New Jersey's long effort to improve school performance, but preschool is one of them.
Calling our state-funded preschools "baby-sitting" programs, as Gov. Christie has done, is just plain ignorant. The fact is, New Jersey is among the top states in national rankings of preschool quality, and research shows the results are lasting.
By the time they reached fourth or fifth grade, kids who attended pre-K in our poorest cities were, on average, three-quarters of an academic year ahead of their peers who didn't, according to a promising 2013 study.

No matter. Christie's school funding plan would still destroy preschool. He is going to demolish these programs that demonstrate success. Explain that to Newark families, governor.
Christie's own man in Newark, former state schools chief Christopher Cerf — now the district's superintendent — just called the governor's plan, which would cut state aid to Newark by more than 60 percent, "cataclysmic."



Star-Ledger Editorial Board| August 25, 2016 at 6:30 AM, updated August 25, 2016 at 6:36 AM


NY Times--As Students Return to School, Debate About the Amount of Homework Rages

How much homework is enough?

My daughter, Maya, who is entering second grade, was asked to complete homework six days a week during the summer. For a while, we tried gamely to keep up. But one day she turned to me and said, “I hate reading.”

I put the assignment aside.

That was my abrupt introduction to the debate over homework that is bubbling up as students across the United States head back to school.

This month, Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher in Godley, Tex., let parents know on “Meet the Teacher” night that she had no plans to load up her students’ backpacks.

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year,” Ms. Young wrote in a note that was widely shared on Facebook. “Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

Other conversations about homework are humming in town halls and online. Some school districts, including one near Phoenix, have taken steps to shorten the summer break, out of concern that too much is forgotten over the summer. But discussions on blogs like GreatSchools.org or StopHomework.com reveal a belief that the workload assigned to students may be too heavy.




Education Week-- Two-Thirds of U.S. 11th Graders Now Taking ACT, While Scores Drop Slightly

While the number of students taking the ACT rose significantly again this year, overall average test scores have taken a dip, according to a new report from the Iowa City, Iowa-based testing company.

The decline in scores is not unexpected, say company representatives, because more states began requiring all 11th graders take the test over the last year—so a more diverse group of students is now receiving results.

"When you go from a self-selected to a [fully] tested population, you're likely adding less academically able students," said Paul Weeks, the senior vice president for client services for ACT. "When you look at the impact, it's pulling scores down a little bit."

The decline is also not as sharp as it could have been, some say. The average composite score went from 21 in 2015 to 20.8 in 2016 (on a scale of 1 to 36). That's a slight but statistically significant drop.

"For an individual tester, even a full 1-point difference on a test could be the kid next to you has a cold and distracted you—it's statistical noise, within the standard error of measurement," said Adam Ingersoll, the founder and principal of Compass Education Group, a tutoring and test-prep company. "But with national populations, almost any tick has some meaning."


Liana Heitin on August 24, 2016 8:10 AM




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