Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reflecting on Accomplishments in the Hoboken Public Schools: 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 School Years

My grammar school- Sadie F. Leinkaulf No.8 
I was recently asked to compile what I felt I accomplished while the Assistant to the Superintendent in Hoboken, NJ. This request was initiated upon attending a presentation about district level leadership by a professor at the Harvard Education School. Of course, every accomplishment takes the cooperation and coordination of many wonderful professionals and the following list is no exception. Very little would have been possible without the assistance and expertise of both the administrative and teaching staffs of the Hoboken Pubic Schools from 2007-2010 and of course without the leadership and support of Superintendent Raslowsky and the then Hoboken Board of Education. With that in mind, here is a list of what I feel I accomplished...with various links to more information when available. -Dr. Petrosino 

In a little more than 2 yrs, I oversaw the conception, development, editing, budgeting, and writing of a full and articulated PreK-12 curriculum (first time in 25+ yrs in the district) with associated lesson plans, district assessments, guides, and implementation plan and was adopted unanimously by the Hoboken Board of Education.  

I formed active and collaborative partnerships with the Liberty Science Center, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, The National Center for History in the Schools, the Hoboken Historical Museum, National Geographic Geography Standards, The Presidential Library Project, the Hoboken Public Library, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Brought into the district Tools of the Mind, Read 180, SRI (online reading inventory)

I expanded the John Hopkins Program, revamped the Saturday U program, oversaw the writing and development of the state required technology plan for the district, led the QSAC effort in Instruction and Program, oversaw 8000+ hrs of professional development for 80 + district teachers, updated the public regularly on progress of curriculum, met regularly with the NJ Department of Education in Trenton to monitor curriculum progress, oversaw NCLB compliance, and brought LitLife into the district (early literacy program). I was part of the team that saw a complete overhaul on the Hoboken School District's Policy Manual

Other activities included regular visits to each of the district schools, weekly meetings with supervisors and principals and I provided the Board of Education with curriculum development and implementation plan updates. I attempted to bring a dual language program to the Hoboken public schools- which eventually became the Hola Dual Language Charter School

In addition, I also spoke about my work with the Hoboken Curriculum Project in presentations I gave at Harvard University, Rutgers University, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the National Science Foundation. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chag Pesach Kasher v'Sameach!

"May you be blessed with happiness, prosperity, peace and good health on Passover and always!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

U.S. News & World Report Releases the 2017 Best Graduate Schools

Park Avenue, Hoboken NJ 
Recently US News and World Report published their rankings of the top Colleges of Education in the United States. I have been very fortunate in my career to have been affiliated with a number of these institutions. I include not only a list of the top 10 Colleges of Education but my affiliation while at the college. I was a tenured professor at #10 The University of Texas at Austin; I received my Master's Degree in Educational Administration with a concentration in computer technology while teaching at Hoboken High School at #7 Teachers College, Columbia University; I did my doctoral work while being a NASA Space Grant Fellow at #5 Vanderbilt University; and I did a postdoctoral fellowship with the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research and the National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NCISLA) at #4 The University of Wisconsin- Madison. I have had and continue to enjoy the many great colleagues, students, and mentors I have met along the way. I am also happy that these institutions are receiving the national attention they warrant and deserve. Congratulation to all of them. -Dr. Petrosino 

2017 US News and World Report
Graduate Schools of Education Ranking
Click to enlarge  

Lucero and Petrosino (in press)- A Resource for Eliciting Student Alternative Conceptions: Examining the Adaptability of a Concept Inventory for Natural Selection at the Secondary School Level

Blossoms in Hoboken- April, 2016
The following article has been accepted for publication to the journal Research in Science Education. Research in Science Education is an international journal publishing and promoting scholarly science education research of interest to a wide group of people. The journal examines early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, workplace, and informal learning as they relate to science education.

The paper is co-authored with my colleague from Santa Clara University and represents a synthesis of some psychometric and discipline specific work we have done in the area of natural selection/evolution education. 

This study had a sample size of over 300 students as we undertook an analysis of a concept inventory in the area of natural selection. Some fairly sophisticated analysis was undertaken to determine the stability of the instrument as well as the suitability of the inventory with secondary school students. The manuscript is currently undergoing some minor editorial changes and will be in the next issue of the journal (Summer 2016). 

Friday, April 15, 2016

2015 Hudson County High School Graduation Rates- Hoboken Falls Below State Average for 5th Consecutive Year Under "Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken!" Leadership

Under the joint leadership of the Kids First/Reach Higher 
Hoboken! majority on the Board of Education, Hoboken High 
School has yet to have a graduation rate above the NJ 
state average. 
As a follow up to my recent post, a number of people contacted me and asked if I would post the high school graduation rates for all the public school districts in Hudson County, New Jersey. Figure 1 presents the data in a double axis format including HS graduate rate, percent poverty, and enrollment. Some have used economic hardship as the reason for a low graduation rate. The Pearson r or statistical correlation between HS graduation rate and percent poverty is about -.429 (generally considered to be a medium correlation). As a point of comparison, the correlation between HS graduation rate and cost per student is .348 (medium-low correlation-and Hoboken has the highest per pupil cost in Hudson County). 

However when thinking about correlations, its important to understand when 2 metrics correlate with each other it may be because: 1) the first caused the second; 2) the second caused the first; 3) a third factor caused both; 4) the two factors caused each other in a feedback loop; or 5) a pure coincidence. 

What do we know about poverty and school dropout rates? Here is a reasonably good summary: 
Poverty and dropouts are inextricably connected in the three primary settings affecting healthy child and adolescent development: families, schools and communities*. -American Psychological Association 
Figure 1
Click to Enlarge

Hoboken does not have poor schools (@$25,000 per student) and it is not a poor community (household income > $105,000 and < 9% poverty) however, about 65% of students do come from economically disadvantaged households as defined by the New Jersey Department of Education (this is NOT the same as "poverty" although the terms are often confusingly interchanged). Economically disadvantaged generally indicates household incomes around 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. Poverty is a more extreme economic condition according to federal and state guidelines and by criteria established by the American Psychological Association concerning dropout rate. 

Is the continuing below average high school graduation rate in Hoboken a product simply of the percentage of economically disadvantaged students? No. An analysis of the correlation between high school graduation rate and economically disadvantaged status in Hudson County finds a marginally medium correlation coefficient of -.429. The American Psychological Association references three factors which contribute to poverty and dropouts- namely low family income, low funding for schools, and poverty in the community of which only low family income appears to be a contributing factor in Hoboken. Finally, there are a number of other districts in Hudson County where there is a higher High School graduation rate than Hoboken and where all three factors the APA references (low family income, low school funding, and low income in the community) are exerting an enormous impact on students (see West New York and Union City as examples) and yet high graduation rates are being achieved. So, there are local school districts succeeding under much more difficult situations and socioeconomic factors than the Hoboken School District. 

It should be noted that below state average graduation rates are not new to the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken! Board of Education. In fact, Hoboken High School has had below state graduation rates for five years in a row. Here are previous results people may find interesting: from 2014; from 2013; and this from 2012 (see Figure 3): 

Figure 3: 2012 HS Graduation Rates in Hudson County, NJ
Click to Enlarge
...the below state average performance on HS graduation rate goes back even further and Figure 4 shows...

Figure 4: HS Graduation Tren Data 2011-2013
Click to Enlarge

And while Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken! and their supporters would like people to believe they inherited a failing school district, nothing could be further from the truth. It is important to remember that in 2008 Hoboken High School was designated the 2nd Most Improved High School in NJ by New Jersey Monthly and the school won back to back Honorable Mention Awards by US News and World Report in 2008 and 2009. Leadership matters. Under Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken! the school district was soon suffering and was quickly designated a District in Need of Improvement by the New Jersey Department of Education

*It is also worth noting that the economically disadvantaged rate in the Hoboken schools is only around 45% in the early grades (K-3) and rises continually as non-economically disadvantaged families with options exercise them and are leaving the Hoboken School district in large numbers (see Figures 5 and 6). 
Figure 5: 2010 ASSA Data- Hoboken School District
Click to Enlarge

Figure 6: 2015 ASSA Data- Hoboken School District
Click to Enlarge

Why are non-economically disadvantaged families leaving? It is not clear. But perhaps the following trends may be contributing factors into the decision making process for families with options to leave the schools (see Figure 7) during the era of Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken!

Figure 7
Click to Enlarge

1) lower SAT scores than expected from economic status of student families
2) designation of the Hoboken School District as a District in Need of Improvement
3) low rating of the Hoboken School District by independent news organizations
4) violence, vandalism and bullying in the Hoboken Public Schools; and 
5) four consecutive years of failing INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM as evaluated by the New Jersey Department of Education
6) recent teacher effectiveness ratings
7) High School graduation rates
8) treatment of recognized administrative and instructional leaders such as Dr. Lorraine CellaPaula Ohaus, and the late Ms. Hillenbrand
9) hyperbole and exaggeration of educational gains by Board leadership

Academic and Peer Reviewed References 
(used in part or in whole in the preparation of this post)

Belfield, C. & Levin, H. M. Eds.  (2007). The price we pay: Economic and social consequences of inadequate education. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Borman, G. & Dowling, M. (2010). Schools and inequality: A multilevel analysis of Coleman's Equality of Opportunity data. Teachers College Record, 112, 1201-1246.
Chapman, C., Laird, J., Ifill, N., & KewalRamani, A. (2011). Trends in high school dropout and completion rates in the United States: 1972-2009. (NCES 2012-06). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved [date]. Source:
Education Week (June 7, 2012). Diplomas Count 2012: Trailing behind, moving forward: Latino students in U.S. schools. Washington, D.C.: Education Week. Retrieved [date]. Source:
Farrington, C. E., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E. , Ngaoka, J., Keyes, T. S., Johnson, D. W., & Beechum, N. O. (2012). Teaching adolescents to become learners: The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago. Retrieved [date]. Source:
Leventhal, T. & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin®, 126, 309-337.
Rumberger, R. W. (2011). Dropping out: Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Sampson, R.J., Morenoff, J.D., & Gannon-Rowley, T. (2002). Assessing "neighborhood effects": Social processes and new directions in research. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 443-478.
Shonkoff, J.P. & Garner, A.S. (2012). The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics, 129, e232-e246.
Snyder, T. D. & Dillow, S. A. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics 2011. (NCES 2012-001) Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved [date].

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2015 High School Graduation Rate- State of New Jersey and Hoboken School District

Observer Highway- Windsor Wax Building
picture: L. DiBrango

The State of New Jersey introduced a new graduation rate calculation in 2011 to determine rates for schools and districts. Through NJ SMART, the State’s longitudinal student data warehouse, the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate calculation is used to derive the graduation rates of students across the state.

The adjusted cohort formula essentially divides the number of 4-year graduates (i.e., those students receiving a diploma) by the number of first-time ninth graders who entered the cohort four years earlier.

The 2015 statewide high school graduate rate is 89.67. The 2015 districtwide high school graduation for the Hoboken Public Schools is 83.3.

Under the joint leadership of the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken majority on the Board of Education, Hoboken High School has yet to have a graduate rate above the NJ state average.

Chart 1 compares Hoboken with the state average as well as some comparable districts in Hudson County in terms of enrollment size. Full data can be obtained on the New Jersey Department of Education website.

Chart 1

For a more complete discussion on this issue please CLICK HERE 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hoboken Board of Education Detailed Agenda- Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
7:00 P.M.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hola Dual Language School Named Again as a Model Program by NJDOE Supervisors of World Languages Model Programs Initiative

Pleased to announce that once again HoLa has been awarded the prestigious designation of Model Program by the New Jersey Department of Education's Supervisors of World Languages Model Programs Initiative. After a rigorous review process, including a day-long site visit, this award is presented to schools that demonstrate excellence in language instruction across a range of approaches. HoLa has been deemed a model immersion program based on instructional design, quality of classroom-level implementation and academic and linguistic outcomes.

As a model program, HoLa will continue to serve as a resource to other schools, and to share best practices with educators across the state.

It is extremely gratifying to have our school recognized for the outstanding work our teachers do every day.

This is the second consecutive time Hola has won this distinction. Hola was recognized by the NJDOE as a Model Program in 2014. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Paper Presentation at AERA in Washington, DC (Hunter, Salinas, and Petrosino, 2016)

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a national research society, strives to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. The American Educational Research Association (AERA), founded in 1916, is concerned with improving the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results.  AERA's more than 25,000 members are faculty, researchers, graduate students, and other distinguished professionals with rich and diverse expertise in education research. They work in a range of settings from universities and other academic institutions to research institutes, federal and state agencies, school systems, testing companies, and nonprofit organizations. Based on their research, they produce and disseminate knowledge, refine methods and measures, and stimulate translation and practical application of research results. 

The following abstract explains the research I have conducted along with my former doctoral student and will be presented at the AERA conference in Washington DC later this week. -Dr. Petrosino 

Do Preservice Science Teachers Develop Goals Reflective of Teacher Education?
An Exploratory Study

Todd L. Hutner*
Cinthia S. Salinas
Anthony J. Petrosino
One broad research question researchers continue to pursue is: what do preservice science teachers learn during science teacher education? Different models of cognition suggest different foci for this research, including pedagogical learning and belief change. Goal-driven models suggest that an important learning outcome is for preservice science teachers to develop goals reflective of their pedagogical training. We present the results of a study designed to examine the degree to which preservice science teachers develop goals reflective of their teacher education training. Qualitative methods were used to study the goals of four science student teachers from a STEM teacher education program at Big State University, a large state university in a southwestern state. Interviews were conducted at the beginning and the end of the student teaching semester, with student portfolio submissions providing evidence for triangulation. Three main findings emerge from this study. First, preservice teachers adopt goals reflective of many, but not all, of the pedagogical strategies emphasized in teacher education. Second, the goals of student teacher remain in flux over the course of the semester, with students tending to disengage from goals during this time. Finally, conflict may arise between pedagogical goals, with student teachers resolving these conflicts in ways that are both research-based and less then idea. Finally, we present implications for teacher educators and those who conduct research on STEM teacher education.

Hunter, T. L., Salinas, C. S., and Petrosino, A. J. (2016, April). Do preservice science teachers develop goals reflective of teacher education? An exploratory study. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.

What is the Role of the School Board...?

A recent rhetorical argument by the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken Board majority has been to say that "we are here to represent the children of the public schools of Hoboken" or "we are here to represent the children of our district." This has allowed the group some political coverage and has acted as a type of buffer from the broader community to think that the Hoboken Board of Education trustees are elected to serve and represent only the children who attend their schools. 
However, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association, the role of the Board of Education is to represent the concerns of the citizens, taxpayers and parents... that seems to be a much broader group than the current Board majority claims they represent when they say they are elected to serve the children of the Hoboken Public Schools. 
What is the role of the school board...? 
Answer: The school board has a dual role: To represent the concerns of the citizens, taxpayers and parents to the school administrators, and to represent the needs of the students and school district to the citizens, taxpayers and parents of the community... -NJSBA

One need only look at the actual Hoboken Board of Education Organizational Chart printed in "The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2015" published on December 8, 2015 on p. vii for how this is codified officially in the district. While some Board members seem to have a rather myopic interpretation of their roles, other Board members have a more expansive and inclusive sense of the role of Board membership...and one seemingly more in synch with the New Jersey School Boards Association. 

Table of Organization- Hoboken Board of Education