Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jersey Journal: State Education Scores Are in, Bayonne and Hoboken Excel...others say "huge disappointment to say the least"

Are test scores in a small district in New Jersey "excelling" or are they a "hugh disappointment." Hoboken has an elected school Board of Education so candidates must run for election every 3 years. Sometimes, political literature and professional journalism have different interpretations of the same data. Here is an interesting case I have used to point out the various influences at play concerning data and it's use concerning the education of our nation's children. -Dr. Petrosino

According to The Jersey Journal (the area's local newspaper) in an article published on January 15, 2010, - the scores in the district are "excelling." The article is entitled: "State education scores are in, Bayonne and Hoboken excel, Jersey City underachieves again"

Analysis: The 2008-09 tests were taken and results tabulated and reported based on district leadership under former Superintendent Raslowsky. What happened? Well, all Hoboken District Schools made AYP (met or exceeded federal guidelines for quality schools) except for Conners School. These results belong in a context where one must realize that 150 *MORE* schools in New Jersey failed to score above the targets set by the federal NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT (NCLB)- bringing the total statewide failure number to more than 800 (out of a total of 2,200 schools tested. Looked at in a different way, 63.4% of schools statewide made AYP. In Hoboken, the number last year was 75% **

However, we read this from a January 28, 2010 blog posting from a political group in Hoboken, NJ known as Kids First ( background: a number of prior and current Board of Education trustees publicly identify themselves as members of this political organization) :

"...the Superintendent (current interim Superintendent Carter) presented the Board and the public with the NJASK test results and the results of the Annual Audit. This was not a pleasant meeting for anyone. The test scores were a huge disappointment to say the least*. Some dips in scores were expected as the test themselves and their scoring was set to change for some grades last year. However, we knew this was coming and forewarned should be forearmed. Mr. Carter told the shocked audience "this will NEVER happen again!” " -

Clearly, these seem to be contradictory messages.

So, which is it? Are the scores a hugh disappointment? Or is Hoboken excelling as articulated by The Jersey Journal? Ideally, the answer should not be based on political literature but rather on objective data analyzed and critiqued by trained professionals.

Sometimes posturing demands a silence on previous accomplishments and the people who assisted in the process--however, the price paid is parents, voters, and taxpayers in disarray and confusion about the quality of their public schools. This takes place in many districts across the nation. Hoboken is no different. But rarely is the contrast in the interpretation of data so clearly delineated as it is in this example.

Are Hoboken District scores disappointing as this political group asserts in it's literature? Or are they excelling and on a good trajectory as articulated in an article by the local press? View the data yourself:

DOE Announces 2009 AYP Results and Releases Statewide Score Summaries

2008-2009 NJ ASK Assessment Results

2008-09 Hoboken City Report Cards

* italics and bold added.

** Brandt and The Demerest Alternative School do not figure in the calculation. If they did, the number would be more like 84% since neither school failed to make AYP last year.

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