April 13, 2012
Christy Administration Announces new, state-wide school accountability program
Governor Chris Christie announced alternate plan to No Child Left Behind. (UPI/Mike Theiler)
By WENDY SCHIBENER
New Jersey is taking advantage of its exemption from the No Child Left Behind Act, granted this February, and begins a new era in the public school system. The Christie Administration announced Wednesday a final list of Priority, Focus and Reward Schools in an attempt to provide a more thorough report on school performance and needs. Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf hopes this new system will rid the state of the â€œone-size-fits-allâ€ mentality on Public School improvement methods.
The Department of Education will invest heavily in the 75 schools deemed as Priority Schools, or schools which are the lowest-performing in the state. The 183 Focus Schools, or schools with specific achievement concerns, will receive specific support to address individualized issues. The 112 Reward Schools in New Jersey will be publicly recognized for their overall performance or growth over the past three years. Reward Schools that were granted Title I funds may also be awarded to financial awards through the Title I funding.
â€œWe are entering a new age of school accountability in New Jersey, one that frees high-performing schools from state interference and defines a stronger investment from the state to turn around pockets of persistent academic failure,â€ said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf. â€œNo longer can we stand on the sidelines when our schools are not preparing students in New Jersey to graduate from high school ready for college and a career. There is a moral imperative for the state to take a stronger role in persistently failing schools and to work collaboratively with communities and districts to give all students a fair chance.â€
A vast majority of New Jerseyâ€™s 2,500 schools will not be categorized in the Priority, Focus, and Reward system. These schools will have independence in making necessary investments for improvement. The Department of Education will then develop growth targets for these unclassified schools during the 2012-2013 school year.
Schools determined as â€œPriority Schoolsâ€ will be closely monitored for a period of three years while the required changes are implemented in the school system. Schools who fail to implement the programs or fail to show improvement in student academic success may be shut down by the state.
A full list of the Priority, Focus, and Reward Schools can be viewed on the NJ Department of Education Website.