Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Newark Star Ledger- Best High Schools- An Exclusive Ranking of Districts (Hudson County data)

September 2013 issue
A number of people have emailed be requesting specific data for high schools in Hudson County based on the recent high school rankings by the Star Ledger. The "2012 Score" is a combination of SAT score and High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). Here is the data and rankings for Hudson County High Schools as reported by the Newark Star Ledger along with the following explanation for grades given by the Newark Star Ledger: 

A- Schools above average to excellent. Many are great schools with scores that have remained high 
B- Schools rising to the top. Test scores as well as academic growth are above average
C- Schools to keep your eye on. Through test scores are below average, academic growth has risen, in some cases dramatically
D- Parents beware of these schools. Test scores are below average, and there is little academic growth

Hudson County2012 Score Grade Home Value
McNair HS392.8B$353,000
High Tech HS349A$374,000
County Prep HS325.2A$374,000
Secaucus HS311.8C$441,700
Weehawken HS310D$536,200
Bayonne HS300.5C$350,800
Kearny HS292.1C$358,400
North Bergen HS289D$354,800
Harrison HS288.3C$363,300
Memorial HS275.9C$363,000
Liberty HS270.3C$363,300
Dickinson HS268.9C$353,000
Ferris HS242.8C$353,000
Lincoln HS238.8C$353,000
Academy HS237.5C$353,000
Hoboken HS235.3D$567,700
Synder HS222.5C$353,000

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hoboken HS Graduation Rate Drops -7.46% to 74.53% (2nd lowest rate in Hudson County) while New Jersey Statewide HS Graduation Rate Rises 3.29% to 86.46% in Latest NJ Department of Education's Graduation Rate Data

Click to Enlarge 
The most recent NJ High School graduation rates were released recently by the New Jersey Department of Education. The data represents the final adjusted numbers for the 2012 high school graduating classes throughout the state. The state average graduation rate rose 3.29% from 83.17% in 2011 to 86.46% in 2012. Hoboken High School posted a 2012 high school graduation rate of 74.53%. This is a -7.46% drop from the 2011 Hoboken High School graduation rate of 81.98% and was the largest percentage drop in Hudson County. 
"The high school graduation rate is a measure of the health of American society and the skill level of its future workforce. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, each new cohort of Americans was more likely to graduate high school than the preceding one. This upward trend in secondary education increased worker productivity and fueled American economic growth" (Aaronson and Sullivan, 2001). 
Hoboken High School has had 4 principals since February of 2010 (!). In addition, there have been numerous Vice-Principals, each with equally short terms. This turnover, instability, lack of leadership, and high suspension rate can only contribute negatively to the high school's graduation rate. What is especially disturbing is Hoboken has dropped from the fourth to the second lowest graduation rate in Hudson County. 


Commentary: In reflecting on Aaronson and Sullivan's words, what does the current graduation rate say about the health and skill levels of the Hoboken students under the stewardship of the political group known as Kids First and the district's revolving door of administrators? Why has this data not been reported at any Board of Education meeting to date? Is Hoboken becoming a "good news only" school district where objective and independent data collected by the State of New Jersey is neither evaluated, analyzed, or reported? The district was certainly quick to report on some nominal gains on state testing recently. One certainly must wonder the reasons unflattering data such as the high school graduation rate are not being reported by the district. Whatever the reason(s)--- the data and the trend of the data is disturbing.   

For information on how high school graduation rate is calculated by the New Jersey Department of Education CLICK HERE. 

For State by State HS Graduation Rate CLICK HERE

Reference: Aaronson Daniel, Sullivan Daniel. Growth in Worker Quality. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Economic Perspectives. 2001;25(4):53–74.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Under Kids First Leadership Hoboken High School Receives a Grade of D from The Newark Star Ledger- "Parents beware of these schools. Test scores are below average, and there is little academic growth" (p.31, September 2013- Inside Jersey)

Click to enlarge
In a story written by Frederick Kaimann of The Star-Ledger, ratings were recently computed which took data from the New Jersey Department of Education on the High School Proficiency Assessment results for language arts and math tests among the general student population for all high school students in New Jersey. Then, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores were added for each high school and weighted. The results according to Kaimann, "separate the best schools from the worst using the same four letter grades children see scrawled across their assignments- A, B, C, D." 

The median score (score by which all public high schools in New Jersey are split in half) is 317. The median growth for public high schools in New Jersey from 2008 to 2012 is + 4.8%. 

Hoboken High School achieved a score of 235.3 which represented a negative growth of -3.7% and a grade of D. The score of 235.3 is among the lowest in Hudson county and the grade is D is the lowest grade possible. 

In the words of The Star Ledger, a grade of D means "Parents beware of these schools. Test scores are below average, and there is little academic growth" (p.31, September 2013- Inside Jersey). 

Approximately 356 public high schools were graded with this new rubric which weighs HSPA and SAT scores. Only 6 high schools in New Jersey (Palisades Park H.S., Bogota H.S., Medical Arts H.S, Pitman, H.S., Paulsboro H.S., and Lakewood H.S.,) experienced a greater percentage drop than Hoboken High School. 349 high schools (98% of all New Jersey public high schools) achieved greater percentage gains than Hoboken. 

This assessment coincides with recent NJ Department of Education's Report Card results which said of Hoboken High School:  
This school's academic performance significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its academic performance lags in comparison to its peers. This school' college and career readiness lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its college and career readiness is about average when compared to its peers. This schools's graduation and post-secondary performance lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its graduation and post-secondary readiness lags in comparison to its peers. - NJ Dept of Education
This analysis is particularly concerning and shows how quickly academic success can be retracted when one considers that in 2007 and 2008 Hoboken High School received successive Honorable Mention (Bronze Medal) recognition by US News and World Report and in 2008 was voted New Jersey's "second most improved high school in New Jersey" by New Jersey Monthly

How did this decline occur? It is difficult to point to 1 or 2 simple causes. Likely, it is more systemic. But, it is important to realize that since February of 2010, under the leadership of the Kids First super majority at the Board of Education, Hoboken High School has had 4 principals (a retired interim, a gym teacher who was never a principal, among others....) in 41 months. During the same 41 months the district has had 3 different superintendents, two of whom were retired interims with little to no objective academic success at either the district or school level. In fact, Kids First selections Interim Superintendent Peter Carter, Interim Superintendent Walter Ruszak along with Interim Principal Joy led Hoboken High School on its downward spiral back in 2010 when the school failed to meet federal and state Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the first time in school history.  

Such turnover seems to have had significant and tangible impact on the educational process at the school and the district. Recall that in December of 2011 the Hoboken School District was designated a DINI District or "district in need of improvement" by the NJ Department of Education. Again, for the first time in the district's history.

What is particularly distressing is the vast amount of independent and unsolicited analysis which showed Hoboken High School was on a very positive trajectory just a few years ago under the leadership of a different Board of Education majority and more consistent school and district level administration. While the political group known as Kids First would like people to believe they inherited a failing school district and had failing schools-- independent data by NJ Monthly, US News and World Report, the NJ Department of Education, the Newark Star Ledger, The Wall Street Journal and numerous other independent publications show otherwise. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

University of Texas at Austin Announces Bold 5 Point Plan for Technology-Enhanced Education

President Bill Powers
The University of Texas at Austin 
For several years, UT Austin has been rapidly developing its capabilities in the field known as blended and online learning. The University's students - native-users of technology - increasingly expect internet technology to play a part in all they do, including their education, and it is already enhancing the learning experience in profound ways. Big questions face everyone in this new paradigm: Who will control the curriculum? How do we reward faculty for their work in online courses? What will this mean for academic standards? How do we get the most out of our efforts and share our expertise with like institutions? How do we make blended and online learning financially sustainable? The following is a letter to the University Faculty by President Bill Powers explaining a new 5 point program for Technology Enhanced Education which, in my opinion, is sure to become a national model in the near future. -Dr. Petrosino 

August 15, 2013
Face-to-face interactions among students and professors can never be fully replicated in cyberspace. I believe a first-class college education will continue to consist of a cutting-edge experience at a residential university. Nevertheless, rapidly advancing technology is changing virtually every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. The changing landscape presents challenges, but it also gives us great opportunities. We need to lead change in higher education, both for ourselves and for the future.

Though it might be hard to believe, the internet first came to UT Austin some 20 years ago. From the mid-1990s, various divisions such as Continuing & Innovative Education pioneered “distance learning,” but the initiatives were à la carte, and enthusiasm for online education was uneven across the campus. Over the last decade, however, advances in streaming video, the development of smart phones and tablets, and the exploding popularity of social networks have fundamentally changed how we communicate with each other, consume news, shop, and learn. Moreover, we have learned a great deal about how our students learn.

We have seen this change coming, and for the past several years, I’ve collaborated with many national leaders in the emerging field known as blended and online learning. In 2010, I began organizing the Public Flagship Network, which started with a core group of leaders from 10 great public research universities, to collaborate on these issues. We have developed an informal consortium of key Texas higher education leaders including universities, community colleges, and university system leaders and have been working together on multiple initiatives related to educational delivery models. This summer I had the opportunity to speak at the Forum for the Future of Higher Education at the Aspen Institute about these initiatives and the implications of new technology for American higher education. UT’s Center for Teaching and Learning has been instrumental in helping us lead the way.

The exploratory phase of this large project is quickly coming to fruition, and now we have reached the stage at which decisions must be made and the work of implementation must be embraced by a larger circle of faculty and administrators. Because we are in a very different place than we were even a year ago, I want to share some thoughts and guiding principles as we move forward.

First, I’m always impressed by the high regard in which our faculty and staff are held. UT Austin is a recognized leader on this frontier. Online course material, software, assessments, and other resources developed by our faculty, students, and staff continue to enhance education here and across America:
  • Our professors routinely use new technology to “flip” large courses. This means reversing the traditional order of learning so that students use web resources like video lectures and interactive problems to learn the content and skills first. When they report to the classroom they are ready to discuss what it really means and focus in on the most difficult areas.
  • We’re developing “on ramp” course materials and technology to help students in high schools and community colleges prepare for the demands of a leading public university.
  • We’re building massive open online courses (MOOCs) and a new educational delivery and research platform called edX with Harvard, MIT, UC-Berkeley, and other major research universities. This work is supported by our partnership with the UT System’s Institute for Transformational Learning, which has provided $1.5 million to fund these MOOCs and another $4 million to support the development of new online courses in Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences.
We are working at the leading edge of nearly every form of blended and online learning. But, of course, there’s more to be done. UT Austin’s mission as a premier public research university demands that we empower our faculty to design and deliver 21st century education. And it’s not just technology that is developing quickly, but our understanding of how we learn. The fusion of technology with learning science is enabling us to customize course materials and exams to identify and target students’ individual needs.

For us, the purpose of investing our creative effort and resources in this work is clear: to transform our students’ lives, inspire their intellectual excitement, and prepare them as leaders, all of which is underpinned by the work and recommendations of UT’s Commission of 125.

It’s consistent with our mission as a leading public research university to discover new knowledge. It also will become a key dimension of the design and business model of a 21st century public research university.
To ensure that this work continues to be consistent with our broader mission, five general principles should guide us:

  1. Our faculty and academic units control the curriculum. Our faculty and academic units are responsible for ensuring that online resources, courses, certificates, and degrees reflect the content and rigor appropriate for a leading national university. Without compromising our deep commitment to the academic freedom of a world-class faculty, we should recognize that these technologies amplify the visibility and impact of individual faculty and staff as representatives of the University on a global scale. Our online curriculum should mirror the rigor of our traditional curriculum, and our online courses should feature the same high-caliber faculty. Conversely, data captured and lessons learned from our online programs should also enhance what we do on campus.
  1. We need to support and reward faculty. Virtually all innovations in society are made by those doing the daily work. Put another way, they can be supported from the top, but they are developed from the bottom up. In our case, that means by the faculty. Our incentive structures need to encourage faculty innovation in this area. Just as faculty members who write textbooks or create devices benefit from their work, we should ensure that faculty who create online content can benefit, as well as their departments, colleges, and the University. Even when the University sponsors the creation of these resources, our general position should be that faculty own the copyrights for the content they create and grant licenses to the University to use and adapt their content, consistent with Regents’ Rules and the law.
Beyond that, we must support our faculty in creating scalable online modules, courses, certificates, and degree programs that reflect our commitment to academic excellence. We must also quickly implement a new technology and support infrastructure to nurture this innovation and research. Over the next few months we need to work aggressively to ensure that the necessary infrastructure to sustain these innovations will be there.
  1. The model must be financially sustainable. As a public university, our main goal is not to make money from courses, but neither can we afford to lose it. Many innovative programs have collapsed because they were not sustainable for their universities and in some cases even made course delivery more costly. The business model of the 21st century public research university cannot simply be a streamlined 20th century model. Creative uses of online resources are not the only solution, but they will be an important part of the new model due to their potential to generate revenue, improve productivity, and dramatically increase the number of students who benefit from our faculty. We must support our deans, chairs, and individual faculty members as they develop creative solutions to these challenges.
  1. We should share content. Blended learning will never be sustainable if every professor or every university must reinvent the wheel. We have never expected our professors to write all of the textbooks from which they teach; likewise we cannot expect all teachers who use blended learning to generate all-original content. Rather, we should produce content and technology that is sharable across many different platforms. A faculty member might begin with building content for a flipped class on campus, then experiment with using the same resources in an online course. Another might build simulations for a MOOC, and then develop training modules to help instructors around the world use that content in their own flipped classes. Yet another faculty member might repurpose interactive content created for an advanced undergraduate course into stand-alone modules that help professionals stay abreast of developments in their field.
These kinds of adaptations can multiply the impact of our online resources, amortize their development costs across multiple projects, and facilitate other educational innovations. Our policies, technology and support infrastructure, and partnerships with other universities and private entities should all be configured to ensure that UT Austin is a world leader in helping faculty develop, implement, adapt, and scale up these innovations. Where appropriate, we also should learn from, leverage, and grant credit for high-quality online content and technology created by other leading universities.
  1. We must never stop innovating. Centuries ago, the innovation of printed books created new possibilities in university classrooms because teachers could assign a greater variety of material than merely their own lectures. Similarly, interactive course materials created by our faculty and colleagues at peer institutions, learning analytics that help us identify and address individual students’ needs, and social media tools with the ability to engage great numbers of learners around the world set the stage for innovations that will define 21st century education. We must support our faculty and academic units in this creative and vital work. We’ve already been working with faculty on these issues for several years and will be working closely with the Faculty Council to ensure that the University is one of the best places to work in the field of educational design and delivery.
And in our work to develop and innovate, we must never forget the students, who are, in one sense, the experts. Online experience is second nature to them in a way it might not be to those of us born in an analog age. Students will increasingly expect that their education will be high-tech as well as high-touch. They will want to go to a university that holistically and effectively incorporates technology into education. Students will be our partners and we will leverage their native-user sensibilities to continuously improve their education.
What is more, for residential students these new educational delivery models can help us enhance many aspects of what is most distinctive about a UT Austin experience — not merely the accumulation of credits but participation in research labs, design studios, study abroad, writing seminars, internships, and so on.
As I mentioned earlier, we now have reached a new stage in our evolution. We must make decisions that will lay the groundwork for the decades ahead. And we must bring larger numbers of faculty and campus leaders into this effort. Over the coming months I will ask our administrative leaders and faculty to work closely with me to identify and address the policy challenges inherent in these efforts. We’ll also collaborate closely with our peer institutions and outside entities to strengthen and accelerate this work.

The foundation of a UT Austin education will always consist of interactions among our world-class students and faculty. New technologies developed by our faculty, students, and staff will strengthen our students’ on-campus experience, improve learning, and accelerate graduation. These innovations will create new educational models that can transcend the time and space restraints of traditional academia. They’ll increase productivity, generate revenue, and save students and their families’ money. They will also broaden UT Austin’s impact, not only through our own offerings but also through strategic partnerships with other universities, community colleges, and high schools.

This won’t be an easy transformation, but it is critical, and so it is worth our investment of energy and resources. I am confident these efforts will help support and sustain UT Austin as a leading public research university into the future. In the end, educational innovations from UT will serve far more students than the framers of the Texas constitution ever could have imagined when they mandated a university of the first class.

Friday, August 2, 2013

President’s Visit Highlights Success of UTeach and Master’s in Engineering Program

MASEE Graduation Dinner for Cohort 3
July 31, 2013
The following is a recent story about President Obama's visit to Manor New Tech High School in Manor, Texas but also emphasizes a summer Master's program I helped start at The University of Texas at Austin known as the MASEE Program (Master of Arts in STEM in Education- Engineering). A program funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the UTeach Engineering Math Science Partnership (MSP). -Dr. Petrosino 

You know you’re doing something right when the President of the United States stops by to see what’s driving student success at your school. Manor New Tech, a high school just outside of Austin, TX, was honored with just such a visit on May 9. President Obama toured the school, speaking to teachers and students and commending their innovative approach to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.“Every day this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond,” said the President. “You’re doing things a little differently around here than a lot of high schools and it’s working.”

Since Manor New Tech opened in 2007, The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education has forged strong ties with the school, providing skilled UTeach graduates who have become STEM teachers there and working closely with in-service teachers who already are in Manor New Tech classrooms.

One of the key ways in which the high school’s STEM instructors have gained a teaching edge is through pursuing the relatively new Master of Arts in STEM Education - Engineering (MASEE) that’s being offered in the College of Education. The MASEE is both unique and rigorous, focusing on traditional math and science education while also stressing engineering, a subject often overlooked in secondary education.

“MASEE is funded by the National Science Foundation and, in my opinion, it’s a national model for success,” said Anthony Petrosino, MASEE director and an associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “Over the course of three summers, we offer state-of-the art coursework in the learning sciences, effective pedagogy and topnotch engineering curriculum that really allows students to put that all together and implement it in a secondary classroom context.”

Since its inception the MASEE program has graduated two cohorts - a total of 19 students. A third cohort is nearing graduation and will bring the number of graduates to 28. Most students in the MASEE program are practicing teachers who have a background in STEM education or in engineering specifically. The program consists of four long semesters of online courses and three nine-week summer sessions on the UT-Austin campus. This blend of online and in-class courses allows working teachers to stay on the job during the school year as they earn their master’s degree.
Giving in-service teachers the opportunity to continue their professional development is a key component of the MASEE degree.

“It’s something to which our program’s very dedicated,” said Petrosino. “Our faculty take this time during the summer to teach the MASEE courses because they value in-service teacher preparation and recognize the importance of continual professional development. These teachers are getting competitive disciplinary content area master’s degrees that have value way beyond one particular classroom.”
MASEE is devoted to developing professional support networks for in-service teachers by promoting connections with top researchers and practitioners in students’ chosen specialties as well as providing opportunities for each cohort to share ideas and projects.

Like many programs in the College of Education and UTeach, MASEE emphasizes the importance of STEM education in struggling schools in urban and rural districts. In addition to content area courses, MASEE students also get pedagogical instruction that addresses the specific needs of urban and rural districts, where higher level specialized STEM education is difficult to come by.
There’s definitely a commitment to addressing the issues of underrepresented populations and providing access to STEM education and STEM careers,” said Petrosino. “It’s critical that we do so. That’s the commitment of the program.”

For Texas teachers who are interested in expanding their technology and engineering knowledge, the flexibility and convenience of the MASEE degree makes more comprehensive STEM education  - that includes specialties like robotics and engineering - a possibility.