Friday, March 22, 2013


Hoboken, Hudson County, and NJ State Averages
During the KIDS FIRST BOE Era
I have been compiling some data for a presentation I will be giving soon on district turnaround, reform efforts, and policy decisions. While putting together the presentation I decided to investigate issues of violence and vandalism in schools across New Jersey. What follows is a small summary of some of my findings. Initially, I only looked at data from 2011-2012 but became intrigued and decided to do more of a longitudinal investigation (see picture top left). There is no simple answer to why the Hoboken violence and vandalism numbers are so much higher compared to county and state figures but administration turnover at the school and district level are likely contributing factors, as are a host of other possible explanations. When one looks at data from comparable districts in Hudson County (see below) as well as other districts commonly thought to have more pressing problems of violence and vandalism (Newark, Camden, Patterson, etc...) other possible explanations fail. The issue is complex, multifaceted, apparently chronic and seemingly systemic and likely related in part to Board, district, and school leadership via use of retired interims as building principals and superintendents, administrator turnover, and active recruitment of non-resident students from surrounding communities. -Dr. Petrosino

The report indicates that total incidents of self-reported occurrences of violence, vandalism, weapons, substance abuse, and bullying in the Hoboken City District are 320% above the Hudson County average and 210% above the State of New Jersey average. Except for the small East Newark School district (total student pop. 229), the Hoboken public schools have the highest number of incidents per student* in Hudson County (4.05 incidents per 100 students in the Hoboken Public Schools; County average 1.3 incidents per 100 students). Hoboken schools make up 2.19% of Hudson County's public school population yet account for 7% of the total incidents reported countywide. 

Around the state, Atlantic City (2.13 incidents per 100 students), Camden (1.6 incidents per 100 students), Newark (.9 incidents per 100 students), and Paterson (1.0 incidents per 100 students) school districts reported less incidents per 100 students than Hoboken while Asbury Park (10.13 incidents per 100 students) reported significantly higher. Bullying accounted for less of a percentage of total incidents in Hoboken (21.4%) than Hudson County (36.1%) and statewide (46.0%). 

Hudson County Vocational School had the least number of incidents in Hudson County with .07 incidents per 100 students.  

* Keep in mind, you cannot go by totals only. You need to account for the size of the district as well (incidents per student). If you don't, the bigger districts will almost always have more total number of incidents. Generally, "incidents per 100 students" is a reasonable and acceptable way to communicate results such as these in educational research and policy.  

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Full report:

DISTRICT (Hudson) Students in 
Total Violence and Vandalism Acts Violence and Vandalism per pupil Violence and Vandalism Incidents per 100 pupils

1272 1 0.001 0.08
W. NEW YORK  7805 37 0.005 0.47
WEEHAWKEN  1232 8 0.006 0.65
BAYONNE CITY 9418 74 0.008 0.79
NORTH BERGEN  7819 71 0.009 0.91
JERSEY CITY 27394 353 0.013 1.29
KEARNY  5920 85 0.014 1.44
SECAUCUS  2156 32 0.015 1.48
UNION CITY 10800 179 0.017 1.66
HARRISON  2031 45 0.022 2.22
GUTTENBERG  931 22 0.024 2.36
HOBOKEN  1726 70 0.041 4.06
EAST NEWARK  229 22 0.096 9.61

Violence and Vandalism Incident per 100 students
Asbury Park 
Atlantic City

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