Friday, January 29, 2016

Hoboken Tops All Towns in Hudson County as well as Newark, Camden, Trenton, Asbury Park, Plainfield and NJ State Average in 2014-15 Violence, Vandalism, and Bullying Rates

Figure 1
CLICK TO ENLARGE 
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"- George Orwell

The Hoboken School District, under the leadership of the "Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken" political group, now has a higher rate of violence and vandalism than the school districts of Asbury Park, Camden, Plainfield, Trenton, and the entire NJ State Average (see Figure 1). Hoboken also has the highest rate of violence and vandalism in Hudson County, NJ (see Figure 2). 
Recall, two years ago (Dec 2013) Hoboken Patch reported that the Hoboken Schools at the 9th worse rate in the entire state of NJ (figure 3). 
Figure 2
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Figure 3
CLICK TO ENLARGE 

The trends go further back than 2013 and actually as far back as 2009-2010, the first full year of the Kids First leadership of the Hoboken School District. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Double the chance- Letter to the Hoboken Reporter Jan 10, 2016

Ribbon cutting for Hola Dual Language School 
August 2010
Dear Editor: On behalf of the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), I am thrilled to announce that HoLa has received permission from the New Jersey Department of Education to implement a weighted lottery that will give low-income applicants double the chance of being selected for an available seat at our school. HoLa was the first dual language charter school in the state when it opened its doors in 2010. Now, HoLa is the first charter school in the state to be permitted to offer a weighted lottery. HoLa has been committed to diversity and inclusiveness in all forms—including socioeconomic—since its very inception. This has been consistently demonstrated by our rigorous outreach efforts, such as knocking on hundreds of doors at the Housing Authority and partnering with local organizations, to ensure that all Hoboken residents are aware of their educational options, particularly those whose options are limited by poverty and who might benefit most from the well-established advantages of an immersion education. Now, a weighted lottery will further our efforts to provide greater access to Hoboken’s neediest residents, and we are grateful that approval was granted in time for us to implement it for the current admissions cycle. Eligibility for this lottery preference is determined by the applicant’s eligibility for subsidized housing, public assistance or free/reduced lunch at a current school. We will be working closely with the Hoboken Housing Authority and Applied Housing to inform residents of this new opportunity and to facilitate the application process. 

We would like to thank our Board of Trustees for their unanimous support, as well as the many varied public officials and community leaders who have supported us in this effort: Mayor Dawn Zimmer, NJ Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, NJ Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, Freeholder Anthony Romano, Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Marc Recko, HOPES President and CEO Ora Welch, as well as Hoboken Board of Education Trustee Peter Biancamano, among others, all of whom recognize that a program that benefits Hoboken students benefits the city as a whole. HoLa will continue its efforts to ensure that all of Hoboken’s residents are aware of the options available to them, and that barriers to understanding those options and exercising choice are ameliorated.

Sincerely,
Jen Sargent
HoLa Executive Director 

Read more:  Hudson Reporter - Double the chance 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hoboken....Where the hypocrisy is staggering when it comes to charter schools: Editorial By Star-Ledger Editorial Board (January 11, 2015)

Hoboken Ferry Terminal (photo: Mark Critides)
The following is an editorial by the Newark Star Ledger documenting the hypocrisy concerning charter schools and traditional public schools, under served students, and the dynamics of a lottery on the charter school I helped found (Hola Dual Language School) and the school district where I was the Assistant to the Superintendent and a high school teacher (Hoboken School District). Finally it appears the full extent of the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken political group's  impact on the Hoboken Public Schools is being realized. Full Editorial CLICK HERE; for Comments on the article CLICK HERE. -Dr. Petrosino 
The biggest knock on charter schools has always been that they fail to take their fair share of at-risk kids. 
This isn’t necessarily nefarious: Factors like more proactive parents also mean that better off kids are more likely to enter the lottery. Some charters, like Hola, a dual-language school in Hoboken, are truly mission-driven, and do everything they can to recruit the neediest kids. 
They go door-to-door and pass out fliers. But until recently, the state had considered another solution off-limits: A weighted lottery, in which charters put a finger on the scale to give an advantage to poor kids, who are disproportionately black and Latino. 
Thankfully, this seems to have changed. When Superintendent Cami Anderson set up a universal enrollment system to ensure charters in Newark take their fair share of at-risk kids, it set a precedent. David Hespe, the acting commissioner of education, said all charters can use weighted lotteries. 
So Hola is now seeking to set up a lottery to enroll more at-risk kids. The surprise, and the outrage, is that the district is trying to block the school from doing so. 
The hypocrisy here is staggering. The district has complained that Hola doesn’t take its fair share of at-risk kids, but now it is seeking to block a reasonable remedy. And the district itself is exacerbating the problem by allowing white families to move their children from the most segregated school in the city, Connors Elementary, to other area schools. 
To understand how preposterous this all is, you need some background on the ongoing battle over Hola. It’s a popular charter that immerses kids in Spanish and English starting at a young age. The program is terrific, and its test scores are excellent. So what’s the problem? In a word, race. 
The district has been trying to stop Hola's expansion on the grounds that it has been drawing too many white students away from district schools. The district isn’t trying to claim that Hola is doing this on purpose, given the charter's active efforts to recruit at-risk students. But while Hola has so far managed to get twice the portion of minority kids as the city’s population, it still has a smaller portion than the district schools. 
In its $50,000 lawsuit, the district blames this on Hola. Instead of trying improve its own offerings, the district is using its resources to go after the charter -- even trying to block Hola from giving low income kids an extra shot in its lottery this year. 
There’s a waiting period for the district to give its opinion on a weighted lottery, and because the district has sought to delay this process, Hola will likely be unable to do one until January of 2016. This means the extra shot for low income kids this year has been squandered. They will have to wait for Hoboken politics, because the district refuses to allow what is right. -Newark Star Ledger Editorial Board 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hoboken School District, under Majority Leadership of the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken Political Group, Fails QSAC DPR in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM for 4th Consecutive Year

Other than the safety and well being of children, there is no other priority more important to a school district than curriculum, instruction and subsequent student learning. Athletics, clubs, facilities, governance, benefits, salaries, budgets while all important take a back seat to safety and well being of the children and of learning, instruction, and curriculum.  As many of us know, it is easy to say something is improving. It is much more challenging to see evidence of improvement by independent, 3rd party, objective evaluations by unbiased entities. For instance, in May of 2015 the Hoboken School District was informed by the New Jersey Department of Education that the district had once again failed their QSAC assessment in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM. This marked the 4th consecutive year the district had failed this DPR (District Performance Review). 


QSAC RESULTS- HOBOKEN SCHOOL DISTRICT 
2012-13 DPR INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM** - FAILED 
First QSAC DPR assessment in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM after completion of the Hoboken Curriculum Project under the leadership of Dr. Petrosino and the Hoboken Curriculum Committee. QSAC was new to the district in 2007 when I came to the district and in a little over 24 months, the DPR score in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM went from an initial score of 34 to 87. 
** QSAC DPR assessment in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM under current Board majority. 

What is most distressing is that it wasn't that long ago, under different Board and District leadership, that the Hoboken School District scored an 87 on the QSAC DPR for INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM. Despite proclamations that the school district is "improving" or statements that Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken inherited a failing district-- the reality is that much of the gains in instruction and program that were achieved and independently verified by the State of New Jersey have eroded...reaching the lowest point at 45 in the spring of 2014. Poor leadership, 7 superintendents in 6 years, 5 high school principals in the same period of time, and numerous other principals and administrators during the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken leadership (2009-present) have taken a toll. The ongoing failure of QSAC DPR in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM is a contributing factor to the district receiving the designation of a "District in Need of Improvement" in November of 2011. Whether the continued failing scores in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM are related to the district's violence and vandalism rates, or other factors is open to discussion and interpretation. -Dr. Petrosino 

The Hoboken School District, under the leadership of the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken Super Majority, received 0 points in each of the following areas on their 2014-15 "NJ Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) District Performance Review- School Year 2014-15. 

1.  The district meets the Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) in language arts literacy (LAL) for the district's total population. 0 Points 

2. The district meets the Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) in mathematics for the district's total population. 0 Points 

3. Language Arts Literacy (LAL) State assessment data for the district's total student population shows one of the following:
a.  At least 95% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed (NJDOE goal); 0 Points 
b.  At least 85%-94.9% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed; 0 Points 
c. At least 75%-84.9% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed; 0 Points 
d. At least a 5% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
e. At least a 4% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
f. At least a 3% decrease in the difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
h. At least a 1% decrease in the achievement gap or difference  between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population. 0 Points 

4.  Mathematics assessment data for the district's total student population shows one of the following:
a.  At least 95% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed (NJDOE goal); 0 Points 
b. At least 85%-94.9% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed; 0 Points 
c. At least 75%-84.9% of the total student population achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced proficient) in the most recent year assessed; 0 Points 
e. At least a 4% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
f. At least a 3% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
g. At least a 2% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population; 0 Points 
h. At least a 1% decrease in the achievement gap or difference between the NJDOE goal (95%) and the district's prior year's proficiency percentage of the total student population. 0 Points 

5b. The district has reward schools as designated by the NJDOE. 0 Points 

7. The percentage of students who graduated from high school by way of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) in the last academic year is: 
a. at least 95%, according to the most recent NJDOE-published high school graduation rate (N.J.S.A. 18A:7E-3); 0 Points 
b. at least 90%, according to the most recent NJDOE-published high school graduation rate (N.J.S.A. 18A:7E-3); 0 Points 
c. at least 85%, according to the most recent NJDOE-published high school graduation rate (N.J.S.A. 18A:7E-3); 0 Points 















Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hola Dual Language School Outperforms NJ Average in 2015 PARCC Mathematics and English Language Arts for Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6

The Hoboken Public Library (erected 1897)
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium of states that collaboratively developed a common set of assessments to measure student achievement and preparedness for college and careers. New Jersey is one of those states (along with AK, CO, IL, LA, MD, MA, MS, NM, OH, RI, and the District of Columbia). The  PARCC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and were created to measure students' ability to apply their knowledge of concepts rather than memorizing facts. The PARCC assessments require students to solve problems using mathematical reasoning and to be able to model mathematical principles. In English Language Arts (ELA), students will be required to closely read multiple passages and to write essay responses in literary analysis, research tasks and narrative tasks. The assessments will also provide teachers information on student progress to inform instruction and provide targeted student support.


PARCC defines five levels in characterizing whether a student’s performance on the assessment meets the expectations of the grade level: 
• Level One: Not Yet Meeting Expectations 
• Level Two: Partially Meeting Expectations 
• Level Three: Approaching Expectations 
• Level Four: Meeting Expectations 
• Level Five: Exceeding Expectations

By combining the percentage of Level 4 and Level 5 we can derive an accurate estimation of the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the PARCC and are well on their way to college readiness. As we can see in Figure 1,  The Hola Dual Language School in Hoboken, NJ achieved a significantly higher passing rate than the NJ state average on both Mathematics and English Language Arts for Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. An incredible achievement when one considers these are students who are being taught over 70% of the time in a different language (Spanish) than the dominant language spoken at home

Figure 1: Results of 2015 PARCC
Click to Enlarge 
The Hola Dual Language School is also the school that the local school district (Hoboken City School District) is seeking legal action against to set aside its charter renewal and to halt Hola's expansion. The lawsuit was initiated and its appeal continues fueled by a political faction on the Hoboken Board of Education known by a number of different names including Kids First, Parents for Progress, and Reach Higher Hoboken and has been supported by former Superintendent of Schools Mark Toback, Interim Superintendent of Schools Richard Brockel and others.

Excerpt from Hoboken Board of Education lawsuit
CLICK TO ENLARGE 



Saturday, January 2, 2016

An Analysis of the Hoboken Schools During the Kids First Era: 2009-10 to 2013-14 NJ Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools Reports

"Hoboken" - Charles Pratt, 1963
At the December 8, 2015 Hoboken Board of Education meeting, a Board trustee- responding to a presentation concerning Violence and Vandalism at the meeting- asked the following question to a district administrator: "So how would you address someone who would say the school (district) is violent?" The response by the administrator was certainly fair and adequate given the spontaneous nature of the question. A regular reader of this blog also inquired as to whether the Hoboken School District is a "violent school district." Given the interest in this question from trustees, citizens, and taxpayers, perhaps some further discussion is warranted. The following analysis is not intended to answer the question specifically (is the district violent) but to provide data and analysis that may provide some additional information for those interested in reaching their own conclusionsThe final decision is left to the reader.  This post is also structured in such a way that people who might want to answer this question for their own New Jersey school district may have a roadmap to follow in order to obtain the necessary data needed to reach their own conclusions about their own district. -Dr. Petrosino 


Earlier last school year (2014-15), the New Jersey Department of Education released its annual Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools Report for 2013-2014. The report documents self-reported incidents of violence in each district. While school districts in cities such as Newark and Camden led the way in total number of incidents, there were many districts that had a higher ratio of incidents of violence. In order to equalize large, medium, and small districts it was decided to take a look at the report in the context of how many students attend school in each of the districts, and construct a list of the districts with the highest number of incidents of violence per 100 students. This makes it easier to compare districts with each other since the incidents of violence, vandalism, weapons, bullying etc takes into account the total number of students in that district. If this wasn't done, than the districts with the largest enrollments would likely have the highest total number of incidents and (perhaps inappropriately) be classified as "violent" districts. Conversely, districts with relatively average enrollments but with relatively high number of total incidents for the number of students they serve would go relatively unrecognized. We will use the Hoboken City School District in Hoboken, New Jersey as our example but using this methodology, you can compare your own NJ school district too.

First we must establish whether the question "Is my child's school district a Violent School District?" a subjective or objective question? Subjectivity is based on personal opinions, interpretations, points of view, emotions and judgement. It is often considered ill-suited for scenarios like news reporting or decision making in business, politics, or education. Objectivity is fact-based, measurable, and observable. The purpose of this specific exercise is to approach the question of whether the Hoboken School District is a violent district as objectively as possible. Therefore, all the data used in this analysis is taken from the New Jersey Department of Education, supplied by every school district in the State of New Jersey under the title of Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools Report  and can be found directly by clicking HERE.


INTRODUCTION
This exercise will have six major components. First, we will compare the 2013-14 Violence and Vandalism data between the Hoboken School District and school districts within its home county of Hudson County. Second, again using the same Violence and Vandalism data, we will compare the Hoboken School District with various NJ school districts across the state. Third, we will compare the Hoboken School District with other district in the State of New Jersey with comparable student enrollment (more than 1900 students) using the same 2013-14 data. Fourth, we will look at the previous year's data (2012-13) analyzed and reported by Patch.com in 2014 and compare the Hoboken School District with all school districts in the State of New Jersey. Fifth, we will conduct a longitudinal analysis of Hoboken vs. Hudson County violence and vandalism averages and NJ Statewide violence and vandalism averages during the school years of 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13. Finally, we will summarize the findings of our analysis.


I. Hoboken and County Comparison- The first comparison we will do in our worked out example will be the Hoboken School District and all the schools within its county. Hoboken is in Hudson County, NJ.  Hudson County is a county with 12 different cities and a county high school. For this and all the following examples, you can view the data (Enrollment, Number of Incidents of Reported Violence, Number of Incidents of Reported Vandalism, as well as Weapons, Substance Abuse, Bullying, and Total Number of All Reported Incidents) below or do directly to the NJDOE website (CLICK HERE). You will also see a column labeled "Total per 100"- this is calculated by the following formula:
(Total Incidents/District Enrollment )*100 = Number of Incidents per 100 Students
We can see that the Hoboken Public Schools have the 2nd Highest rate of total incidents in Hudson County outpacing such cities as East Newark, Union City, Jersey City, West New York, and Harrison (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: 2013-14 NJDOE Violence and Vandalism - Hudson County
(click to enlarge)














II. Hoboken and Various NJ District Comparisons- The next comparison we will do in our worked out example will be the Hoboken School District and various other school districts in New Jersey. Here we see Hoboken with a higher rate of violence per 100 students than in school districts such as Atlantic City, Patterson, Camden, Elizabeth, Asbury Park, Newark, and Hoboken's Hudson County neighbor, Jersey City (see Figure 2). An examination of the data indicates the rate of violence, vandalism and substance abuse per 100 students in Hoboken is 200% more than the school districts of Jersey City and Newark; about 133% more than the school districts of Elizabeth and Asbury Park and 50% higher than the Camden Public Schools.

What might be somewhat surprising to some is the City of Hoboken's relative wealth and prosperity compared to some of these other districts although there is some disparity between the City of Hoboken's demographics and the demographics of the public schools. For various reasons and for a fairly long time, the city's public schools have not been able to attract the full demographic diversity of the city.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $101,782 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,219) and the median family income was $121,614 (+/- $18,466).
Figure 2: 2013-14 NJDOE Violence and Vandalism- Various NJ Cities
(click to enlarge)  










"An examination of the data indicates the rate of violence, vandalism and substance abuse per 100 students in Hoboken is 200% more than in the school districts of Jersey City and Newark; about 133% more than the school districts of Elizabeth and Asbury Park and 50% higher than in the Camden Public Schools."
Click to Enlarge














III. Hoboken Compared with Districts of Comparable Enrollment -There are approximately 675 districts in the NJDOE database. Remember, as some people are quick to point out, each charter school is its own school district. In these 675 school districts are approximately 1,370,516 students. This means the average school district in New Jersey has about 2,030 students (median district enrollment is 927; standard deviation = 3157).  When we look at the approximately 213 New Jersey school districts with at least 1900 students enrolled we find that the Hoboken Public Schools has the 18th highest rate of incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse per 100 students. This places the Hoboken Schools in the top 10 percent of all NJ school districts with over 1900 enrolled students in terms of the rate of incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse per 100 students.

Figure 3: 2013-14 NJDOE Violence and Vandalism- Enrollment Greater 1900
(click to enlarge) 



















Does all this mean that the Hoboken School District is a violent school district? Well, that is somewhat of a subjective question and certainly not the intent of this exercise. But when we look at the objective, self reported data, what we can say is that the Hoboken School District has the 2nd highest rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students in its county; it has a higher rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students than Atlantic City, Patterson, Camden, Elizabeth, Asbury Park, Newark, and Jersey City; and finally, we know that the Hoboken School District has a rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students higher than 91.5% of all school districts in New Jersey with student enrollment over 1900 students. Does that mean Hoboken is a violent school district? This is for others to decide.

IV. Hoboken Compared with All of New Jersey School Districts in 2012-2013 -Was 2013-14 simply a bad year? That is a reasonable and thoughtful question. An independent analysis was done by journalists in 2014 looking at all schools districts in New Jersey. Specifically, in 2014 Patch.com reported that the Hoboken School District was the 9th most violent school district in the State of New Jersey. That designation was based on data from the 2012-2013 Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse in the Schools Report.

PATCH.com's 2014 ranking:
Ranking) District, County (# of students, Incidents of Violence, Ratio)

State of New Jersey (1,369,554; 7895; .005)

1) Wildwood City Cape May County (852, 24, .0282)
2) Lakewood Township, Ocean County (5186, 145, .0280)
3) Willingboro Township, Burlington County (3952, 108, .0273)
4) Camden County Vocational (2158, 55, .0255)
5) High Point Regional, Sussex County (1005, 25, .0249)
6) Palmyra Borough, Burlington County (965, 23, .0238)
7) Florence Township, Burlington County (1593, 37, .0232)
8) Burlington County Vocational (2100, 48, .0229)
9) Hoboken, Hudson County (1706, 36, .0211)

V. Hoboken Compared with Hudson County and NJ State Incidents per 100 Students from 2009-10 to 2012-13 Academic School Years -But maybe the past 2 years have been unusual years in Hoboken. That is certainly possible. So, what happens when we look at the previous years data? Well, probably best for others to decide but its pretty clear that the rates of self reported violence and vandalism data in Hoboken outpaced those in Hudson County and the State of New Jersey by a fair margin from the 2009-10 school year (the year a political group known as "Kids First" took control of the Hoboken School District) to the 2012-13 school year (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Longitudinal Violence and Vandalism Rates (click to enlarge)

























An examination of the data (Figure 4) indicates that:

1) In 2009-10 the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 383% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 343% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students. 
2) In 2010-11 the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 395% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 321% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students.
3) In 2011-12 the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 220% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 110% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students.
4) In 2012-13 the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 320% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 160% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students.

VI. Hoboken Compared with Hudson County and NJ State Incidents per 100 Students for the 2013-14 Academic School Year 

In 2013-14 the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 188% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 92.35% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students. 


VI. Overall Summary- Is the Hoboken School District is a violent school district? Well, that is somewhat of a subjective question and certainly not the intent of this exercise. But when we look at the objective, self reported data, what we can say without any debate is that
a) 2013-14 data indicates that the Hoboken School District has the 2nd highest rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students in its county;
b) 2013-14 data indicates that the Hoboken School District has a higher rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students than Atlantic City, Patterson, Camden, Elizabeth, Asbury Park, Newark, and Jersey City; and
c) the most recent data indicates that the Hoboken School District has a rate of violence and vandalism per 100 students higher than 91.5% of all school districts in New Jersey with student enrollment over 1900 students;
d) recent data reported by Patch.com indicates that the Hoboken School District was ranked the 9th most violent district in the State of New Jersey;
e) data from 2012-13 indicates that the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 320% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 160% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students;
f) data from 2011-12 indicates the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 220% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 110% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students;
g) data from 2010-11 indicates that the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 395% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 321% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students; and finally 
h) data from 2009-10 indicates the rate of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse per 100 students in the Hoboken School District was 383% higher than the Hudson County average rate of incidents per 100 students and 343% higher than the State of New Jersey average rate of incidents per 100 students.

To reiterate, ALL the data reported here is self reported by every district including Hoboken as per law by the New Jersey Department of Education.  When asking the question or whether your child's or the Hoboken Public Schools are violent-- it is probably best to draw arguments from the best objective data available. The NJ Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools Reports represents the best objective data available to answer such questions. Whether the Hoboken school district is a violent district is a complex question. But one must understand why objectivity is more reliable than subjective personal testaments, political endorsements or assurances,  and/or anecdotes from well meaning people. Ultimately it is up to individual parents, taxpayers, and policy makers to weigh the objective and subjective data. This blog takes no position on the issue but rather makes an attempt to present the objective data in as easy and comprehensible fashion as possible. 

note: some common retorts to this data in the past have been "we are the only school district reporting honestly" or "other school districts fudge their data"--- it should be noted that there are no known pending or settled cases with the NJDOE concerning the purposeful misreporting of Violence and Vandalism Data. 






Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Percentage of Highly Effective Teachers in New Jersey Released: Results for Hudson County, New Jersey

Old time light up Santa in Hoboken, NJ (2015)
Whether we are parents, taxpayers, policy makers, or educators, we all want highly effective teachers in our classrooms teaching our children. Recently the New Jersey Department of Education released data on teacher and principal effectiveness. Recently NJPATCH posted the results (from highest to lowest) of high performing teachers in the State of New Jersey. The report was complied by an award winning journalist. This information was picked up by a blogger in Bayonne, NJ and many other journalists and policy people around New Jersey including NJ.COM.

More information of the new staff evaluation system (TEACHNJ Act and N.J.S.A.18A:6-120) can be found at the New Jersey Department of Education website. It is worth noting that suppressed records are indicated by an (*). Records that have an n of less than 10 are suppressed (e.g., if 9 or fewer teachers/staff received a rating of Ineffective, the record is suppressed).

Therefore wherever there is an (*) you can assume the number of teachers in that category is less than 10 or falls somewhere between 0 to 9 teachers. Giving the full benefit of a doubt, the chart below replaces every (*) in the Highly Effective category (High_EFF) with a (9) representing 9 possible teachers or the maximum number from the 0-9 range. As mentioned, this is the maximum possible suppressed number which warrants an (*).

What are the teacher evaluations based upon? Well, according to NJ.COM, 85% of the evaluation was based on observations of local administrators directly overseeing the teachers:
“Most teachers’ evaluations were based on the following: 85 percent on observations by administrators and 15 percent on student growth on local tests, quizzes or other projects. About 15 percent of teachers had their scores based 55 percent on observation, 15 percent on student progress on local tests and 30 percent on students’ annual improvement on state standardized tests.” -NJ.com 
A number of individuals requested a compilation of Highly Effective Teacher percentages for districts in Hudson County, New Jersey. 




INEFF Part_EFF EFF High_EFF TOTAL  % HighEF
HARRISON TOWN * * 56 92 149 61.74%
EAST NEWARK BORO * * 15 * 18 50.00%
SECAUCUS TOWN * * 85 74 160 46.25%
HUDSON COUNTY VOCATIONAL * * 148 63 211 29.86%
WEST NEW YORK TOWN * * 389 160 553 28.93%
GUTTENBERG TOWN * * 55 14 72 19.44%
NORTH BERGEN TWP * * 461 103 567 18.17%
UNION CITY * 11 566 86 663 12.97%
KEARNY TOWN * * 386 42 429 9.79%
WEEHAWKEN TWP * * 95 * 107 8.41%
JERSEY CITY * * 1824 106 2043 5.19%
HOBOKEN CITY * 11 157 * 177 5.08%
BAYONNE CITY * * 657 14 679 2.06%













Legend: INEFF= Ineffective Teachers; Part_EFF= Partially Effective Teachers; EFF= Effective Teachers; 






High_EFF= Highly Effective; Total= Total Number of Teachers in District; High EFF%= Percent of





Highly Effective Teachers







































































Sunday, December 27, 2015

2-Tier Terrarium Blog of Pre-service Elementary Teachers


terrarium is a type of miniature ecosystem of plants. Terrariums are usually sealable glass containers that can be opened for maintenance and to access the plants inside. However, this is not essential; terrariums can also be made using other transparentmaterials, and some are open to the atmosphere rather than being sealed. Terrariums are often kept as decorative or ornamental items in the same way as aquariums.
Closed terrariums create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium. The sealed container combined with the heat entering the terrarium allows for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapour then condenses on the walls of the container, and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below. This contributes to creating an ideal environment for growing plants due to the constant supply of water, thereby preventing the plants from becoming over dry. In addition to this, the light that passes through the transparent material of the terrarium allows for the plants within to photosynthesis, an important aspect of plant growth.


Cohort H

GROUP 1H; GROUP 2HGROUP 5H; Group 6H

Cohort M 

GROUP 1MGROUP 2MGROUP 4M; GROUP 5MGROUP 6MGROUP 7M


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Being bilingual could double your chances of recovering from a stroke

The benefits of bilingualism are seemingly endless. There are the linguistic and social skills that come from switching between multiple languages and cultures, and there is an emerging body of research on the impact it can have on our cognitive abilities.

A new study now suggests that the practice of speaking two languages could also help protect the brain in the event of a stroke.

Researchers from the UK and India studied more than 600 stroke patients in Hyderabad, India—a city in which multiple languages are commonly spoken—and found that those who spoke more than one language had double the chance of recovering from the condition than those who spoke only one language.

Cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and visuospatial skills were examined. Even after taking into account variables such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and age, the researchers found that 40% of the bilingual subjects recovered their normal cognitive function following a stroke, versus 20% of the monolingual patients.

Thomas Bak, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the study, explains:

Bilingualism makes people to switch from one language to another, so while they inhibit one language, they have to activate another to communicate. This switching offers practically constant brain training which may be a factor in helping stroke patients recover.
Previous work by the same set of researchers in 2013 found that bilingual people who develop dementia tend to do so up to five years later than those who are monolingual. However, despite the initially positive outcomes of these two studies, researchers note that “more is needed to determine the exact circumstances under which bilingualism can have a positive influence on mental functions.”