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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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2-10-12 'New Jersey among states to have No Child Left Behind education requirements lifted'
Star Ledger - NewJersey among states to have No Child Left Behind education requirements lifted… “…The Garden StateCoalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts, said the waiver does away with the negative "labeling" of No Child Left Behind, however."This will be a welcome relief to schools that have not been making adequate yearlyprogress (AYP) while the overwhelming majority ... of their students are reaching AYP requirements," executive director Lynne Strickland said.

Star Ledger - NewJersey among states to have No Child Left Behind education requirements lifted… “…The Garden StateCoalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts, said the waiver doesaway with the negative "labeling" of No Child Left Behind, however."Thiswill be a welcome relief to schools that have not been making adequate yearlyprogress (AYP) while the overwhelming majority ... of their students arereaching AYP requirements," executive director Lynne Strickland said.

 Published: Thursday, February 09, 2012,7:26 PM Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2012, 8:32 PM  ByJessicaCalefati/The Star-LedgerTheStar-Ledger

TRENTON — The Obama administration hasfreed New Jersey and nine other states from the requirements of a sweepingfederal education law that was widely criticized for labeling some of thestate’s top school districts as "failing."

Towin the reprieve, the state submitted a detailed blueprint on how it wouldboost student achievement without the decade-old law, known as No Child LeftBehind. New Jersey plans to reward high-performing schools and could forcelow-performing ones to remove ineffective teachers, according to theapplication. Gov. Chris Christie heralded the approval as a sign the Obamaadministration supports his education-reform agenda, which includes overhaulingtenure and ending a practice that forces districts to lay off teachers with thefewest years of experience before more senior staff, regardless of ability.

"Thisis not about Democrats or Republicans — it is about pursuing an agenda in thebest interest of our children whose educational needs are not being met, andthose who are getting a decent education but deserve a great one,"Christie said in a statement.

Ina conference call, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the countrymust reduce its drop-out rate, improve achievement of low-performing students,close the achievement gap between minority and nonminority students andgraduate all students ready for college and careers.

"Wemust get better, and we must get better faster," Duncan said.

Alsoapproved for waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky,Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that soughtthe waiver and did not earn it yet is New Mexico, although Duncan said it isclose to approval.

NoChild Left Behind requires all students statewide to be proficient in math andreading by 2014. It breaks out "subgroups" such as special education,and categorizes by race and ethnicity, and it labels schools or districts as"in need of improvement" if only a few students do not reach themark. Districts with schools considered in need of improvement for multipleyears in a row are deemed "failing."

Withoutthe waiver, it would be nearly impossible for New Jersey to comply by 2014because 55 percent of the state’s public schools have students who do not meetthe standard, test data show.

NewJersey proposed a new accountability system that would group schools into threetiers based on students’ standardized test performance.

The5 percent of schools with the lowest test scores would be deemed"priority," and another group with low graduation rates or wideachievement gaps would be considered "focus." The state’s bestschools would be called "reward." Many schools would not be in anycategory.

NewJersey provided some clarifications to its original plan, at the request of thefederal Education Department. Among them, the state said noncategorized schoolscould land in priority or focus groups after two years of low performance. Italso set exit criteria for schools to work their way out of the low-ratedgroups.

Underthe application, priority schools could be forced to fire principals, removeineffective teachers and extend the school day. The state has threatened toblock these schools from receiving some federal funding if they do not improve.Reward schools would be given financial bonuses.

Interventionsfor priority schools will begin this fall, but they may have limited impact iflegislation is not enacted to overhaul teacher tenure.

TheNewark-based Education Law Center criticized the waiver as "policymakingbehind closed doors." Stan Karp, a director there, called it "amissed opportunity to learn from a decade of policy failure under NCLB."

TheGarden State Coalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts, saidthe waiver does away with the negative "labeling" of No Child LeftBehind, however.

"Thiswill be a welcome relief to schools that have not been making adequate yearlyprogress (AYP) while the overwhelming majority ... of their students arereaching AYP requirements," executive director Lynne Strickland said.

InWest Orange, where there is one school "in need of improvement,"Superintendent Anthony Cavanna said the waiver will usher in "good thingsthat will help us move forward. With the new curriculum interventions we aredeveloping, we should be able to focus the majority of our efforts onincreasing student achievement."

Staffwriter Jeanette Rundquist contributed to this report.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828