Saturday, October 26, 2013

Total student attendance during Kids First leadership of the Hoboken School District (2009-10 to 2012-13)

Note: y-axis not represented from point of origin
How many students are in our schools? A seemingly easy question but sometimes not an easy answer to get that is clear and verifiable with state and district reported data (as opposed to verbal estimates, educated guesses, or political and campaign rhetoric). I was interested in this question recently and found the question challenging to answer. 

What is especially challenging is navigating multiple data sources, and conflicting messages that district enrollment is increasing and messages that district enrollment is declining. Add to this the confusion of whether you add Pre K students, students sent out of district, special education students, or school choice students and the issue can be daunting. Without a clear delineation by these categories, it becomes very difficult and confusing. This is especially true when it is in the best interests of one group to say "our schools are growing" and in the interests of another group to point to declining enrollment as an indicator of declining faith in the leadership of a community's public schools.

Whether Kids First's policies and decisions impacting instruction, programs, finances, governancetest scoresgraduation ratesviolence and vandalism numbers, curriculum or how some teachers have been treated can be directly related to the downward trend in total K-12 student attendance in the school district is difficult to prove. But, a quick summary indicates:

It is clear is that current educational policies and decisions coupled with academic outcomes and results under Kids First are not leading to increased public school enrollment. Moreover, in a city with significant population growth (up 29% since '00) and during a time of an historic economic downturn (2 factors that would lead to expected increases in public school enrollment) the trend line for total K-12 public school enrollment is negative and decreasing. 
What do we know? We know Hoboken has been an explosive growth in population over the last census. The 2000 census counted 38,577 people while the 2012 census counted 50,005 people or a 29% increase in population. So, the city is not experiencing a population decline.

Regular readers of my website will note that the 2009-10 attendance numbers indicate the total K-12 student attendance in the district that the political group known as Kids First inherited as they began their oversight of the district. While the 2013-2014 new budget summary offered by the Hoboken School District is nicely done and very colorful, it leaves out some information previous reports contained including student population total. I expect to have 2013-14 estimated data once the official October 15 attendance numbers are reported and published by the State of NJ's Dept. of Education. I have included url's to the NJ Department of Education sources for all data with active links.

I have looked at official NJ Department of Education data and have come up with the following numbers. These numbers come from the State of NJ Report Cards and the new Performance Reports. Moreover, I have tried to identify only the K-12 student population.

Can there be other reasons for the decline in enrollment? Perhaps so. But what is clear is that enrollment is not increasing even during a time of significant population growth in the city and a time of economic challenges for many. 

State Reported K-12 District Enrollment: Hoboken School District 

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Brandt 55 58
Calabro 137 136
Connors  270 268
Wallace 680 633
HHS 674 635
Total  2029 1816 1730 1641

2009-10 attendance data: (Subtotal - Pupils On Roll 2298)
2010-11/2011-2012 attendance data: