Sunday Leftovers

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PARCC Division:
C. Andre Daniels, chair of the National PTA Resource Development Committee, says it “is time for someone to say publicly and sincerely, ‘Shame on those refusers.'”

Rather than undermine the assessment, these people should put that energy into supporting parents, teachers and administrators to use the tests to lift up all students. Higher standards do not just benefit those at the bottom, but it reinforces the success of those at the top. Opting out for fear of stressing out your child isn’t helping anyone. 

Scoffing at annual assessments is a deliberate attempt to undermine a collective, devoted effort to provide all students with equal access to a strong education. The opposition groups attempting to undermine standardized assessments are contributing to the marginalization of under-resourced communities.

Kati Haycock in NJ Spotlight addresses  N.J. parents who are contemplating opting-out their kids from PARCC exams (The comment section is worth reading too, for those who want to get a whiff of the distortions and misconceptions promulgated by anti-testers):

We get why parents and teachers are sometimes frustrated by the number of tests that schools are giving. Over the years, many school districts piled on lots of extra tests — many of them not so good –for a variety of purposes. The answer to that problem, though, is not to throw out the best tests we have ever had — the new Common Core Tests like PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and Smarter Balanced — but to demand that school districts stop requiring excessive numbers of other, lower-quality assessments. 

We also understand why some parents are tempted just to opt their children out of the assessments. But all of our experience tells us that is a dangerous road to travel, for kids who aren’t tested simply don’t matter to schools nearly as much as those who are.

In the Asbury Park Press, Sen. Joe Kyrillos explains the benefits of PARCC testing 

 Not only does PARCC indicate to parents and teachers which concepts their students have mastered or are still struggling to grasp, it also allows them to compare their results to peers across the state and the nation. PARCC gives teachers and administrators detailed, timely reports on each student to help them determine how to improve instruction. 

Despite these benefits, a vocal group is encouraging parents to opt out of the PARCC tests and pushing the state Legislature to impose a moratorium on the use of PARCC scores…It is natural to worry about changes that affect our children, but we have been integrating these bipartisan-supported standards and tests for four years, better than other states. I understand that those concerned with PARCC may have the best interests of their children at heart, but opting out or any other movement against PARCC risks leaving students behind their peers and unprepared to lead us all into the future.

From the Wall St. Journal: “Anti-testing groups have campaigned aggressively on social media, and the New Jersey Education Association unleashed radio and television advertisements last week saying high-stakes testing spurs too much test preparation, drains resources and exhausts children.
‘The NJEA is spending a lot of money to try to get students to opt out,’ Mr. Hespe said in an interview. ‘We are worried.'”

 NJ Advance Media held  a testing forum to “dispel a few myths” about the PARCC test. NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer agreed that the tests were “no-stakes” for schoolchildren but he remains concerned because “We’ve been giving standardized tests for decades, but all of a sudden everything is new now.”

The Star Ledger reports  on a new website to answer questions about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. “Best Foot Forward NJ, which launched Monday, addresses many of the common concerns about PARCC. Unlike the New Jersey Education Association ad campaign against PARCC that debuted last week, the website focuses on how to best support students as they take PARCC tests.”

The Times of Trenton’s Editorial Board compares N.J.’s PARCC roll-out to Obamacare – “an epic fail” — but says that “no testing system is perfect, and PARCC has its problems, but it should be given a chance.”

And, now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

John Mooney traces the arc of the “bouncing ball of Christie’s position on Common Core, which had his full support at least until 2013 but has evolved into a far more critical position as Christie has traveled the country and faced Republican voters in gearing up for his likely bid for the party’s nomination for the presidency.”

Cami Anderson was reappointed as Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. See NJ Spotlight and the Star-Ledger.

Parents of Mastery Schools in Camden presented a petition with over 1,000 names to Paymon Rouhanifard on Tuesday pleading for expansion. See the Courier-Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gov. Christie says the media misunderstood his message when he said during his budget speech that he had reached an historic accord with NJEA regarding pension reform. From the Asbury Park Press: “Christie said it’s not his fault if people got the impression the NJEA had caved and agreed to givebacks. He blamed the media for butchering his message, though NJEA leaders who attended the speech Tuesday blasted the Republican governor for jumping the gun, saying there are negotiations but no deal.” Also see the Star Ledger, NJ Spotlight, and The Record.

The Trentonian tries to drill down on two budget gaps in Trenton. One is within the district where there’s a $19 million budget gap and the other, up to $80 million, is in unremitted payments allegedly due from the municipality to the school district:

According to numbers provided Wednesday by the Trenton teachers union, the city shorted the school district a total of $80.2 million from the local tax levy over the past six years. With the district currently facing a $19-million budget shortfall, the figures show the city paid $21.1 million of the required $36.1 million in taxes this year, a difference of nearly $15 million. 

“These figures don’t lie,” Janice Williams, Trenton Education Association’s grievance chair, said Wednesday at the union’s headquarters. “They haven’t been paying their fair share.”

The State released school aid numbers, which are mostly flat. See NJ Spotlight, Asbury Park Press, and NJ Herald for details and databases.
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  • StateAidGuy, March 1, 2015 @ 8:29 pm Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • StateAidGuy, March 1, 2015 @ 8:32 pm Reply

    “The State released school aid numbers, which are mostly flat.”

    It would be much more accurate, and still brief, to say:

    “The only new aid is $4.6 million that is going to 85 districts that participate in Interdistrict Choice. However, half of that $4.6 million is going to only nine districts, with Hoboken seizing $749,000, or 16% of the total increase. If an Interdistrict Choice district lost Choice student enrollment, its loss in Choice Aid was made up for with Additional Adjustment Aid.

    You could then add if you wanted to say anything about the other 505 districts in NJ.

    No district that lost valuation or had a residential student increase received any additional aid.

  • NJ Left Behind, March 2, 2015 @ 3:11 pm Reply

    StateAidGuy: true.

  • StateAidGuy, March 2, 2015 @ 7:40 pm Reply

    I don't have enough time to check how much Additional Adjustment Aid every Choice district is getting, but there's some big money being spent on non-existent students.

    The Morris School District's Choice aid dropped from $859,000 to $542,000, but no worries for the Morris School District, state taxpayers are kicking in $316,000 in Additional Adjustment Aid.

    Wharton Boro Choice aid dropped from $625,000 to $448,000, but Wharton is covered by state taxpayers too, they're getting $177,000 in Additional Adjustment Aid.

    Cumberland Regional also had a drop in Choice Aid exactly equal to its boost in Additional Adjustment Aid, but only $138,000.

    These districts aren't getting as much as the $497,000 in Additional Adjustment Aid Englewood got last year and is keeping this year, nor Hoboken's $255,000, but they are still doing well for educating phantom students.

  • StateAidGuy, March 2, 2015 @ 7:46 pm Reply

    Have you looked up how much of its budget Deal gets from Interdistrict Choice?

    Deal's budget is $4.6 million. Deal will get $2.08 million next year in aid, of which $1.9 million is from Interdistrict Choice and $138,000 is “Additional Adjustment Aid,” presumably from losing Choice students some years ago.

    When districts that have growing student bodies and even declining ratables (eg, Atlantic City) are seeing flat aid, Deal is getting a 10% increase, $188,595. That $188,595 is 4% of their entire budget.

    While every other district desperately tries to fit its budget under the 2% cap, Deal could easily have a 2% tax decrease.

    Interdistrict Choice is the most flawed aid formula in NJ. We cannot sustain this.

  • NJ Left Behind, March 2, 2015 @ 8:35 pm Reply

    Do you really think the state school funding inequities can be solely ascribed to IPSCP? I find it hard to believe that this tiny program is the source of all disparities.

  • StateAidGuy, March 2, 2015 @ 9:14 pm Reply

    “Do you really think the state school funding inequities can be solely ascribed to IPSCP? I find it hard to believe that this tiny program is the source of all disparities.”

    No, of course not. I didn't even talk about the overall spending disparities here.

    HOWEVER, Interdistrict Choice is a step in the wrong direction since it takes money away from Equalization Aid.

    Governments spend huge amounts of money and sometimes it is worth criticizing even small expenditures because they are so unjustified and so contrary to what the people want. I recall you criticizing a proposed $10 million state grant to the Lakewood yeshiva, even though $10 million isn't much compared to a $33 billion budget. Counting Additional Adjustment Aid, our annual expenditure for Interdistrict Choice is at least $60 million.

    Interdistrict Choice has the following additional problems.

    1. This program doesn't benefit poor kids because they can't afford transportation.

    2. It doesn't benefit districts that have had population growth and need more aid the most.

    3. It counteracts any tendency for district consolidation since $$$ is triggered whenever students cross district lines.

    4. It allows absurdities like Deal getting Abbott-level funding. Without Interdistrict Choice Deal would likely merge with another district, that tax base could go to another district, and state aid for that other district could be freed up.

    6. It allow absurdities like Hoboken, whose aid is already mostly from Adjustment Aid, getting more and more state money.

    7. It produces absurdities like Choice districts being paid to educate phantom students.

    I also criticize this program so often because it is so overpraised and even supposed education experts don't understand how it works.

    When my district has seen 15% student growth in the last decade and gotten no additional aid I find it impossible to accept that districts that might just enroll another 15 kids (let alone 15% growth) might get over $200,000 for that while my district gets nothing.

    Let aid go where it is the most needed!

  • StateAidGuy, March 4, 2015 @ 2:56 pm Reply

    Please read this article about Sussex County and Interdistrict Choice Aid. What is unique about this article is that it gives the number of new Choice students a district is getting.

    Green is getting another $236,600 for seven kids. That's $33,800 per Choice student.

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