Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Most Recent Violence and Vandalism Data for Hoboken, Hudson County, and New Jersey School Districts

Many readers will recall that an analysis conducted by during the 2013-14 school year showed the Hoboken Public Schools to have the 9th highest rate of Violence and Vandalism in the State of New Jersey (see Figure 1). At the time,  this analysis and the subsequent implications caused a great amount of concern by people throughout the city and school district. The Kids First-Forward Together political group had been in majority control of the Hoboken Board of Education for over 4 and a half years at the time of the report.

Where is the district in terms of Violence and Vandalism after more than 7 years of Kids First-Forward Together leadership and almost 3 years after this analysis by Patch? This is the latest data available (see full report at the end of this post) and is officially presented in a report titled the "Commissioner's Annual Report to the Education Committees of the Senate and General Assembly on Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools" - and is Based on District-Reported Data in the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS) and the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Investigations , Trainings, and Programs Systems (HIB-ITP). 

Figure 1: Hoboken Patch Screen Shot
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Here is the most recent published raw data sorted from highest incidents per 100 students to lowest incidents per 100 students in Hudson County, NJ and some selected districts across New Jersey. The data has been parsed to observe the individual numbers within each category (Enrollment, Violence, Vandalism, Weapons, Substances and Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB)) for each district in Hudson County and in a sample of other districts around the state. 

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Here is the most recent published raw data sorted alphabetically and in graphical chart form for Hudson County, NJ and some selected districts across New Jersey and graphed as "incidents per 100 students."

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When we use RATES as opposed to TOTAL NUMBERS we see interesting and unique patterns in the data. The Hoboken School District still has higher rates of violence and vandalism than any other district in Hudson County, NJ or districts such as Camden, Newark, and Asbury Park. 

SUMMARY: Is this the "continued progress" that we hear politicians speak of? Is this the "moving forward" that we are told the Hoboken Public Schools are experiencing and voters must "protect"? No one likes to speak about things like violence, vandalism, weapons, and bullying...but it does happen and it is up to the adults in charge to assure these incidents happen as little as possible and at rates as low as possible. Nonetheless, according to self reported data, Violence and Vandalism happens in the Hoboken Public Schools at a rate that surpasses all other districts in Hudson County and many other districts throughout the State of New Jersey. To be clear, this does not necessary mean that the Hoboken Public Schools are "dangerous" places-- danger is something that is a subjective. But what is clear is that parents and taxpayers of the city need to have access to objective data, reasonably presented in a comprehensible fashion in order to make their own educational and safety decisions concerning their children. 

METHODOLOGY: While large school districts in cities such as Newark and Camden led the way in total number of incidents, there were many districts that had a higher rate of incidents of violence. In order to equalize large, medium, and small districts it was determined to take a look at the report in the context of how many students attend school in each of the districts ("enrollment"), and construct a list of the districts with the highest number of incidents of violence per 100 students. This makes it easier to compare districts with each other since the incidents of violence, vandalism, weapons, bullying etc takes into account the total number of students in that district. If this techniques was not employed, than the districts with the largest enrollments would likely have the highest total number of incidents and (perhaps inappropriately) be classified as "violent" districts. Conversely, districts with relatively average enrollments but with relatively high number of total incidents for the number of students they serve would go relatively unrecognized.

The following research was helpful in preparation of this post: Reference 1, Reference 2, and Reference 3.

Note: There is no statistical evidence that the rates of Violence and Vandalism has been impacted by the addition of "choice" students into any NJ school district.