Friday, July 31, 2015

Article by Dr. Anthony Petrosino is featured in the recent issue of the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach 8(2)

8th and Grand Sts- Hoboken, NY 2015
The article, Decentralized thinking and understanding of evolution in K-12 evolution education, is co-authored by Dr. Margaret Lucero (Santa Clara University- former STEM Education graduate student) and Michele Mann (current STEM Education doctoral student), and reports a study on high school biology teachers from the same department and how they taught key evolutionary concepts such as variation, selection, inheritance, deep time and decentralized thinking. Dr. Petrosino is a co-founder of the UTeach Program- currently being replicated in 50 colleges and universities in the United States.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

HoLa looks at Multi-Service Center for Expansion by Carlo Davis

St. Anne's Day- Hoboken, NJ (date unknown)
This from a recent story in the Hoboken Reporter by Carlo Davis concerning the Hola Dual Language School and additional space at the Hoboken Multi-Service Center. You can read the full article at the link above or at the end of this post. -Dr. Petrosino

The City Council has advanced an agreement allowing the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa) to lease 1,183 square feet in the Multi-Service Center for its incoming seventh grade class.

If fully adopted at the next council meeting on Aug. 5, the lease could help answer the crucial question of where the new 21-student class, approved by the state Department of Education last year, will be housed.

The school currently rents out most of the Jerry Molloy Youth Center, another community building, from the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, but is already at capacity in that space.

A lawsuit filed by the Hoboken Board of Education seeking to halt HoLa’s expansion still awaits a hearing in state appellate court, though it will not be able to prevent the seventh graders from matriculating in September.

Expanding up, or out?

For the past year and a half, supporters of HoLa and the traditional public school district have carried on a lively and sometimes contentious debate over the implications of the school’s expansion to seventh and eighth grade, often wading into the minutiae of population trends and funding algorithms. Precious little of that discussion has dwelled on the actual logistics of absorbing as many as 113 additional students into HoLa by 2018.

Last September, the City Council passed a resolution allowing HoLa and the Boys and Girls Club to seek an expansion of the Molloy Center before the Zoning Board.

The resolution was required because the Molloy Center is a city building, leased by the Boys and Girls Club for fifty years for a nominal annual fee of $2. By contrast, HoLa paid the Boys and Girls Club $338,608 for its use of the facility this past school year.

Architectural plans released last fall called for a new third floor and two rear additions accommodating 13 classrooms. With the building already so full that classes were held in temporary trailers this past school year, the rear additions would address only extant student population growth in grades K through 6.

The Multi-Service Center lease advanced on Monday would provide HoLa with 1,183 square feet of classroom space in what is currently a rec room filled with ping pong tables, plus additional office space. Rent would amount to $1,100 a month.

Hoboken’s under-20 population increased by 2,400 between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census, and HoLa is not the only local public school currently scrounging for more classroom space.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Christie Administration Announces Results from First Year of New Educator Evaluations

First Baptist Church- Hoboken, NJ
Trenton, NJ – The Department of Education today announced a report detailing the results from the first year of implementation of AchieveNJ, the state's new educator evaluation and support system. Starting in 2013-14, teachers and school leaders across the state were evaluated based on multiple measures of educator practice and student achievement, which provided more detailed and personalized feedback than ever before.

The report identified some important outcomes, including:

In past years, educators typically received a binary evaluation rating of "acceptable" or "not acceptable," often based on a perfunctory annual classroom visit by a supervisor. Now, teachers and leaders are receiving individualized feedback that recognizes excellence and helps districts tailor support for those who need it most. The state law that established new evaluations requires multiple measures including observations, student growth goals set by educators and supervisors, and, for some, student growth on state assessments.
As expected, the majority of New Jersey educators earned the top two of four possible ratings, Effective or Highly Effective, but districts now know much more about the outcomes of their work with students. In addition, approximately 2,900 teachers were identified as Ineffective or Partially Effective – and these teachers provided instruction to more than 180,000 New Jersey children last year. The law that created AchieveNJ requires those teachers to receive extra support and to demonstrate progress over time to earn or maintain tenure.
The report also provides evidence that teachers evaluated partially on student growth on the state standardized test (about 15% of all New Jersey teachers) were not at a relative disadvantage by the inclusion of this measure. Like teachers not receiving those scores, the vast majority of those earning "Student Growth Percentile" scores, which show the progress a student makes from one year to the next in comparison to academic peers across the state, were rated either Effective or Highly Effective. Moving forward, districts can examine growth data for trends along with other evaluation measures to improve decisions about individual, school, and district goals.

"The real story of the first year of AchieveNJ," said Peter Shulman, Assistant Commissioner of Education and Chief Talent Officer, "is that educators have risen to the challenge of improving feedback for all teachers and leaders. While one year of this new data is insufficient for identifying sustained trends or making sweeping conclusions about the state's teaching staff, we are proud of this significant improvement and the personalized support all educators are now receiving."

"I commend New Jersey educators for the hard work they've done to improve performance evaluations across the state," remarked Governor Christie. "As I've always said, we should be pleased with the excellent education so many of our children receive, but we must also recognize the areas where we need to do better. These early results reinforce our long-held beliefs and, more importantly, provide district leaders with concrete data to make more informed decisions about their staffs."

Education Commissioner David C. Hespe applauded local district leaders who helped successfully implement the new evaluations. "AchieveNJ was very purposefully designed by educators to ensure that those impacted by these policies and activities are the ones leading that work in each district," he explained. "The lessons and data points embedded in this report are meant to assist our districts and schools as they look to learn from and build upon their initial year of implementation."

The full report is available online. To learn more about AchieveNJ, visit

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today’s newest teachers face tough job odds, high turnover- PBS Newshour

Is it a good time to become a teacher? Salaries haven't kept up with inflation, tenure is under attack and standardized test scores are being used to fire teachers. And that's if you get a job. Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on the struggles for today's newly trained educators to find work and stay in the classroom.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Stay of HoLa Expansion Denied in NJ State Appellate Court; Seventh Graders can Matriculate in Fall - Hoboken Reporter

Bethlehem Shipyards, Hoboken NJ 1952

The fate of a lawsuit to block the expansion of the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa) to seventh and eighth grade is still up in the air, but the 21 students slated to form the inaugural seventh grade class will be able to matriculate this coming September. Victor Ashrafi, a judge with the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division, virtually guaranteed that when he denied a motion to stay HoLa’s expansion this past Thursday.

The lawsuit was brought by the Hoboken Board of Education, which has argued that the state Department of Education (DOE) ignored HoLa’s allegedly segregated student makeup and its financial impact on the traditional school district when granting its expansion.

The state DOE requested a second chance to review HoLa’s enrollment data last November but ultimately upheld the expansion in March. That decision has been appealed in state court.

Prior to the state appellate court ruling this week, the state education commissioner also denied a motion to stay HoLa’s expansion in late May.

“We are glad to see the Appellate Court denied the Hoboken Board of Education’s latest attempt to hurt a great public school,” said Barbara Martinez, the president of HoLa’s Board of Trustees. “We hope that after having their frivolous claims shot down three separate times, the BOE puts an end to the unsuccessful litigation and instead focuses their energy on working constructively with the city’s public charter schools. This would be the responsible thing to do on behalf of all students.”

But the lawyer for the Hoboken school board, Eric Harrison, said the denial of the motion satisfied the board’s goal in seeking such an injunction, which was to prevent a situation in which any public school student, HoLa or otherwise, was left in a state of limbo.

“We’re glad to have certainty about what’s going to happen in September for everyone involved in the case, including the students in the HoLa seventh grade class,” said Harrison.

Harrison speculated that the appellate court could not identify an irreparable harm to the HoLa seventh graders, since they could transfer to another school if HoLa’s expansion was overturned.

For Full Story CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Understanding the Gap in Special Education Enrollments Between Charter and Traditional Public Schools (Winters, 2015)

Educational Researcher is one of the most prestigious research journals in the field (Impact Factor:2.527 |  Ranking:Education and Educational Research 9 out of 224). Here is a recent study on trying to understand the gap in special education enrollment between traditional public schools and charter public schools that took place in Denver, Colorado. You can read the Executive Summary HERE or read the Abstract that follows. For those wishing to obtain the full research article, here is the ERIC resource (or click HERE) and the full reference is: Winters, M. A. (2015) EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHERvol. 44 no. 4 228-236. A similar study (with similar results) took place in New York City a few years earlier. -Dr. Petrosino 

Abstract: A widely cited report by the federal Government Accountability Office found that charter schools enroll a significantly smaller percentage of students with disabilities than do traditional public schools. However, thus far no hard evidence exists to definitively explain or quantify the disparity between special education enrollment rates in charter and traditional public schools. This article uses student-level data from Denver, Colorado, to map the creation and growth of the special education gap in elementary and middle school grades. The gap begins because students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in gateway grades than are nondisabled students. However, the special education gap in Denver elementary schools more than doubles as students progress between kindergarten and the fifth grade. About half of the growth in the gap in elementary grades (46%) occurs because of classification differences across sectors. The remaining 54% of the growth in the gap in elementary grades is due to differences in student mobility across sectors. However, the gap does not primarily grow—and in fact tends to shrink—due to the movement of students with disabilities across sectors and out of the city’s school system.

Winters, M. A. (2015) EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHERvol. 44 no. 4 228-236.