Back from a hurricane-related hiatus,

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I’ll jump right into the new Monmouth University Poll that shows that New Jersey support many of the tenets of education reform. The majority of the 802 adults who were surveyed earlier this month agreed with the following:

  • Tying teacher evaluations to student longitudinal growth: “About one-third (32%) say that performance-based metrics should weigh more heavily in determining teacher compensation. However, nearly half (47%) feel that performance and experience should be given equal weight in determining an individual teacher’s salary.”
  • Merit pay: Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute explains, “Democratic leaders in the legislature have put the kibosh on merit pay, but the New Jersey public does not feel this is such a bad idea. The sticking point is how to measure teacher and student performance.” In fact, few have much faith in the state standardized tests; only 6% believe that the ASK tests do an “excellent” job of rating student ability.
  • Tenure Reform: 52% of those surveyed belief that teachers should not receive lifelong job security after three years and a day on the job. From Monmouth:

    New Jerseyans of every partisan stripe, would support changing it to a limited tenure system which would evaluate teachers on a regular basis. A teacher who fails an evaluation would be given up to three years to regain their tenure or they could be fired if they do not improve. Only 18% of Garden State residents oppose this proposed change.

  • Vouchers: “A majority of 55% support “tax funded vouchers” compared to just 34% who oppose it.” That support is unchanged since 2004.
  • There’s a far amount of confusion about the nature of charter schools, which should be a signal to charter school advocates that they need to do more to educate the public. Only 36% of those polled know that charters are public schools and only 41% know that charter school students have to take the same standardized tests as those in traditional public schools. 51% think that the existence of charter schools has no impact on the quality of NJ’s traditional public schools.
  • Accountability: 63% of Garden Staters think that public schools need more accountability and only 29% say that adequate oversight is already in place.

The poll results should serve as a reminder to legislators and lobbyists that New Jersey has national leadership potential for implementing education reform principles.

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