Long Island retains her title as New York Opt-Out Princess; Leslie Brody reports, “The number of students who opted out of state tests in Long Island rose to more than 97,500 this week, according to tallies by test-refusal advocates—or about half of the students in grades three through eight.” Across the state, 11.4% of children were opted out by their parents, although percentages varied widely district-to-district. According to Long Island Business News, “[o]pt outs aren’t common in every Long Island school district, with lower numbers in some districts with large numbers of minority students.”
Anti-accountability lobbyists are holding their collective breath as New Jersey data trickles in. At Princeton Public Schools, the birthplace and home base of Save Our Schools-NJ, “Superintendent Steve Cochrane stated on Tuesday that “we won’t have truly accurate numbers on test refusal until the end of the week” but “did say that refusal numbers appear to be lower than last year.”
The Princeton Packet tries to take the state’s opt-out temperature by quoting Princeton resident Julia Sass Rubin, yet inexplicably failing to mention that she is the founder of Save Our Schools-NJ, the rabid anti-testing organization.
For a different take, see the Press of Atlantic City, which reports that “Margate Superintendent John DiNicola said so far the district has received seven refusals, compared with 60 last year…Joetta Surace, interim superintendent in Port Republic, said the process has been very low key this year, with not much mentioned by staff, student or parents.”
Hammonton Superintendent C. Dan Blachford said few parents were concerned about the test and most realize it will be similar to other tests students will take for college and careers. He said the schools designed a schedule that reduces the assessment time.
“The parents want their children ready for these tests,” he said.
The Star-Ledger and NJ Spotlight feature reports on the new N.J. Taxpayer Guide to Spending for 2014-2015. The average cost per pupil was $19,652 last year (including state pension payments), a 2.2% increase from 2013-14.
From the Ledger:
Avalon spent the most per student, $63,786, while East Newark spent the least, $14,001. When all schools are considered, Bergen County Special Service is the highest spender. The county-wide district for students with expensive special education needs spent $95,438 per student.
Charter schools, which receive funding on a per-student basis from the districts students leave, dominate the list of schools that spend the least. Classical Academy Charter School in Clifton ranked last in spending at $9,986 per student.
Speaking of charters, the N.J. Department of Education received 24 applications in its most recent round of charter authorizations.
The Star-Ledger argues that the state anti-bullying law was well-intended but badly crafted.
Trenton Public Schools Board of Education has narrowed its superintendent search to two finalists, reports the Trentonian, but neither has unblemished work histories. The teacher union president says the Board should start over instead of choosing one of the candidates.