Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Despite Claims to the Contrary, Hoboken Public School Enrollment Continues Downward Trend 2013-2018

Budget time is rolling around again and soon we will be hearing justifications for increases to the budget. One issue that seems to be coming up with some regularity is overall district enrollment. Is the enrollment in the Hoboken Public School rising? falling? or remaining stable? If you listen to some of the rhetoric coming from the district leaders you would hear that the district is experiencing notable growth. 
Opinions are often not founded upon data. Here is data from the New Jersey Department of Education documenting the total enrollment in the Hoboken Public Schools over the past 5 years. Decide for yourself whether you think the student enrollment in the district is on the rise or not. 

YEAR Hoboken District ENROLLMENT (no charters)


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pulled From Social Media- Hoboken School District and Black History Month

Peter Carter
Hoboken Superintendent
The following is a reflection on Black History Month (BHM) in the Hoboken Public School District. Some of the reflection centers on a video shown at a meeting. We will try to obtain the video soon. But in the meantime, this reflection by a concerned citizen of color and parent of a former Hoboken District student is presented for review.


Three takeaways
1.) The entire BHM video was about celebrating why the district isn’t afraid to celebrate BHM instead of actually celebrating Black History Month
The main theme that kept repeating itself in the BHM video was, “We aren’t afraid to celebrate Black History Month” while showing video clips of the segregated elementary school. Huh? What is the district afraid of? What kind of message does that send to Black children and their families? Do they understand that Black History Month is celebrating American History too?

2.) They didn’t celebrate anyone Black beyond the most known Black leaders and issues to non- Black people. Basically, it was the cliff notes version of Black History. So they went from an “All Lives Matter” Black History Month sign from last year to a let’s do the minimal work. This is what happens when the district refuses to recruit, hire, and retain Black teachers.

3.) Clearly Dr. Johnson and many of the teaching staff have never ever acknowledged, taught, or considered Black history as American History or had to ever consider Black American students in their school communities. Some of these people have been in education close to 3 decades and this is the first time they’ve actually had to recognize Black Americans but they couldn’t help but to recognize themselves. This is 2019 in a district with a considerable number of Black children whom can’t go anywhere else but this public school!

Please Post Your Comments 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pulled from Social Media: Black and Brown Parental Concern in the Hoboken Schools

Posted on Facebook today by a former parent in the Hoboken School District...

Just had two parents call me on three way this morning asking me for my help on the following matters:

1.) A child was placed on “homeschool” because of the district’s failure to provide her anti- anxiety medication during the day causing the child to have a breakdown.

 The district demanded the child take anti-anxiety medication as a condition for the child to attend school. The Hoboken High School nurse is responsible for administering the medication during the school day. The child went to the nurse on numerous occasions to get her medication. It appears the district is requiring a disproportionate number of Black and Brown children to be on medication and the vast majority of students that attend Hoboken High School are Black and Brown children. As a result, the nurse has to administer an overwhelming number of medications to students during the day.  This child grew frustrated when the nurse failed to provide the child with her anti-anxiety medication several days in a row. The child claims the nurse kept snapping at her and turning her away because of the overload of cases. Now off her anti- anxiety medication for several days, this issue the child has a breakdown and is suspended indefinitely and now placed on homeschool.

The mother claims no one comes regularly to teach her child and she fears her child is falling into depression and further behind in schoolwork.

2.) Another child was suspended and arrested for trying to leave the classroom and defending herself against a school administrator. There was a disruption in the classroom. According to this parent, an administrator was called to the classroom. The child tried to leave the classroom but the administrator blocked the doorway. When the child got too close the administrator grabbed and shoved the child and then called the police. The child tried to leave the classroom again and the administrator again put her hands on the child. The administrator punched the child her chest and the child struck the administrator back.  The child was arrested and then suspended.

Now there are always three sides to a story. However, when these types of incidences are happening it’s time for a change in school  and district leadership.  Given my experience with the high school administrators and their continued underperformance, there is good reason to believe the parents.

The medication issue is simple. Does the district over medicated Black and Brown children? is there a disproportionate number of children being suspended and placed on homeschool as a result? Can the nurse keep up with administering medication throughout the day and if not what responsibility does the district have in setting these kids up for emotional distress and breakdowns as result of this systems failure?

The second issue, is more of a she said she said issue. However, the minute the administrator prevented the child from leaving the classroom and/or struck the child, is the minute the administrator escalated and already distressed situation. If that happened that should absolutely be considered in evaluating the child’s case and potentially borders on child endangerment. Either way the district needs to come up with better deescalation tactics that don’t exasperate mtters. Again this is a school leadership problem that continues to be plagues the high school culture. I guess it will take a Student to die on school grounds before the BOE takes meaningful action because plenty of kids are dying off of school grounds as result of this leadership problem.

Please Post Your Comments  

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why the New QSAC Score on INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM in the Hoboken School District Really Is Not an Improvement- Facts You Need to Know

Water Main Break- 7th and Jefferson St Hoboken 3/19
So, how did the Hoboken School District score an 81% on QSAC INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM even though student testing scores are very low? How did the Hoboken School District score an 81% on QSAC INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM even though the district dropped 48 places on New Jersey Monthly's annual district ratings? How did the Hoboken School District score an 81% on QSAC INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM even though recent research by Stanford researchers indicate the district actually has an adverse impact on student success as predicted by social economic status and has the lowest growth rate in Hudson County and among the lowest growth rates in NJ and the entire nation (bottom 13%)

See Where Hoboken Ranks on Effective District Measurement
The answer is fairly simple and straight forward and is two fold. First, the QSAC system in New Jersey basically went over a major revision. Revision is a natural process and perhaps the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) was being responsive to adjustments and/or overhauls to the existing system. Second, and related to the first, is that the new QSAC system allows for partial scores. Before, a district received "all or nothing" for a particular indicator. With the revised system, "partial credit" is now allowed. To see this clearly, please look at the official NJDOE documents below where you can view the new District Performance Review (2017-18) and the previous District Performance Review (2016-17).

2018 NJ Monthly Rankings

Reporting Recent QSAC Scores- Hoboken, NJ
Does the 81% indicate improvement from the previous failing score of 77%? Certainly not if the NJDOE was using the old scoring system. With the new system and with partial credit for failing scores, the district now has a score of 81%. But district administrators, Board members, district teachers, and others should be forthcoming and clear when explaining the new QSAC score to the general public. 

Hopefully, this post will assist in a more informed conversation about the Hoboken district's failing test scores, plummeting rankings, and negative effects of the district on its students and not promote too aggressively the notion that the increase in the DPR for INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM this year is attributed to a major change in the status quo but simply is attributal primarily to awarding partial credit. 

Under the board and district leadership of the Kids First-Hoboken Proud regime- in one form or another-  the Hoboken School District failed every QSAC DPR for INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM since 2010. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

  1. What are some of the major changes to the NJQSAC indicators as a result of the 2017 revisions? 
    1. The indicators use  PARCC, the state's current standardized assessment program, to measure student growth and achievement;
    2. District scores are based on proficiency for both total student population and subgroups of students;
    3. Median Student Growth Percentile (mSGP) is used  to measure growth for both the total student population and student subgroups;
    4. Graduation rate is based on a school district's 4- and 5-year cohort graduation rate of total student population and student subgroups; and
    5. Implementation of staff evaluations is monitored in accordance with AchieveNJ and ensures districts provide high-quality professional development for its educators.
  2. What other changes will take place in NJQSAC starting in the 2018-19 school year?
    1. Partial monitoring of school districts will be discontinued beginning with 2018-19, and no districts will be given an extension of their required three-year monitoring cycle; 
    2. The Statement of Assurance will no longer be part of the NJQSAC monitoring process beginning in the 2018-19 school year;
    3. The monitoring process (desk audit) will be remote whenever possible in an effort to reduce the burden on school districts; and
    4. The NJDOE will provide a NJQSAC User Manual to clarify what evidence districts may use to validate their self-assessment, creating a more transparent monitoring process. A draft of the manual is expected to be available to districts in February, 2018. 
  3. Will there be training on the updated NJQSAC indicators and corresponding process?
    1. Training has already begun for the county office teams that will conduct NJQSAC monitoring.   
    2. There will be multiple opportunities for districts undergoing NJQSAC monitoring in 2018-19 to receive training.  The NJDOE will schedule regional training dates spanning late spring to late summer 2018 and will include them on the NJDOE Calendar of Events.
    3. County Teams will continue to provide cohort-specific training to prepare districts being monitored in 2018-19. 
  4. Where can I find the NJQSAC indicators (revised and current)?
    1. Appendix A (District Performance Review) 
    2. Appendix B (County Special Services District Performance Review)

 (Reader Comments Allowed)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hoboken Board of Education States on February 19: "Up to This Point the Hoboken Public School District....Did Not Score Above an 80 in (QSAC) Instruction and Program" Ruling: FALSE

February 2019 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting
Growing up in Hoboken there was an old saying I remember the old people telling us-- often half in jest but also somewhat wise and prophetic. It was a simple saying and I remember it to this day with a little sense of humor and also a kernel of wisdom that I have also told to people from time to time..."don't lie if you don't have to." Well, other people have also weighed in on the topic including Hoboken's favorite existential philosopher--
I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you." -Fredrich Nietzsche
At the February 19, 2019 Hoboken Board of Education meeting, the head of schools addressed the general public and stated on the record that the Hoboken School district had never achieved a score of 80 or above (passing) in the QSAC DPR known as "Instruction and Program." 

In fact, the Board's exact words are as follow:

"from 2008 through the 2014-2015 school year the district was able to point the ship in the right direction and the Hoboken public school district passed and has maintained passing scores in four out of five categories:1) operations, 2) personnel, 3) fiscal management and 4) operations. Unfortunately, the thorn in our side and the target of criticism has been in the Instruction and Program category. Up to this point the Hoboken public school district had not been able to achieve high performing district status because we did not score above an 80 in Instruction and Program (as indicated earlier the district's instruction and program score). In 2008 it was 34 and in 2014 the district score in this category rose to 45.

What was left out was that between the initial score of 34 in 2008 and the 45 score in 2014, the Hoboken School District- under my leadership and the hard work of dozens of teachers, administrators, and staff, achieved scores of 54% in August 2009, 77% in December of 2009, and finally a passing score of 87% in April of 2010!!! This has been a well known fact in the district and indisputable (see NJDOE communication's below). 

To be clear, less than two years of curriculum writing and the addition of numerous instructional interventions and refinement, the Hoboken School District did achieve a score well above an 80 after the first comprehensive review of the new curriculum, test scores, instructional materials and professional development. The district I inherited did receive an initial QSAC score in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM of 34% but in less then 2 short years, the score rocketed from 34% to 77% and peaked at 87% after a final QSAC review by the New Jersey Department of Education in spring 2010 (see Figure 1). 

Unfortunately, once Mr. Raslowsky, Dr. Cella, and I left the district and the Kids First/"reform"/"Reach Higher, Hoboken" regime  Board of Education took full control of the district, QSAC scores in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM had plummeted to 45% in June of 2014 (see Figure 2). In fact, after receiving the 87% the district under the Kids First majority Board and the "leadership" of Superintendent Toback, Carter, and a host of others failed the QSAC DPR for the next 8 years

“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov 

The Hoboken Board of Education stated on February 19th that: "Up to this point the Hoboken public school district had not been able to achieve high performing district status because we did not score above an 80 in instruction and program as indicated earlier the district's instruction and program score."

The Hoboken Board of Education's statement is rated as: FALSE/PANTS ON FIRE! 

We will examine the "new" QSAC that was instituted this year and how passing the current QSAC INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM is not necessarily the same rigorous instrument the district passed with an 87% 9 years ago or the one it current received a score above 80% currently.



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Spring-Summer 2019 Research Tour- Toronto, Tampa, and France

Spring and Summer 2019 will be busy with the presentation of some National Science Foundation research projects that have been underway for the past months. Here is a quick summary of the conferences, the official reference, and an abstract of what will be presented. 

American Educational Research Association- AERA

Petrosino, A. J., Sherard, M. K., Harron, J. R., Brady, C. E., Stroup, W. M., & Wilensky, U. J. (April, 2019). Developing preservice teachers’ conceptualization of models and simulations through group-based cloud computing. Poster presented at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada.

In this study, preservice teachers use Group-based Cloud Computing (GbCC) to engage in simulations about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. Participants developed concept maps and defined models and simulations before and after using GbCC. Findings include that through the intervention, participants moved from linear representations of concept maps towards more complex system-based representations. Although participants were able to articulate changes that they would like to make to the agent-based model, their limited programming knowledge was a barrier that prevented participants from implementing changes. In addition, misconceptions were uncovered regarding participants' definitions and uses for models and simulations. This research better informs how authorable agent-based models can help preservice teachers develop a deeper conceptual understanding of non-linear complex systems.

American Society for Engineering Education- ASEE

Petrosino, A. J., Sherard, M. K., & Harron, J. R. (June, 2019). Examining pre-service teacher conceptions about vaccination using participatory and authorable computer models. Poster presented at the annual convention of the American Society for Engineering Education, Tampa, FL.

This work in progress is part of a larger design-based research project to implement computational modeling of complex phenomena in STEM education. In this single implementation case study, the authors sought to use computational simulations to engage preservice teachers in dialogue about the locally relevant issue of vaccination in K-12 schooling. The researchers built and used simulations of disease transmission and engaged teachers in a 3-hour lesson to determine: (a) what beliefs pre-service teachers hold about requiring vaccinations in schools before and after engaging with the simulations; and (b) how these beliefs emerge when pre-service teachers attempt to re-design a computational model to represent three schools with unique social and economic conditions.

Computer Support for Collaborative Learning- CSCL

Petrosino, A. J., Sherard, M. K., & Brady, C. E. (June, 2019). Using Collaborative Agent-based Modeling to Explore Complex Phenomena with Preservice Teachers. Poster presented at the International Conference of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, Lyon, France.

This poster investigates preservice teachers’ abilities to use, evaluate, and revise participatory agent-based models deployed with the Group-based Cloud Computing (GbCC) platform. This poster discusses two cases within a larger design-based implementation research study with preservice elementary science teachers. By implementing models with preservice teachers, we hope to (a) make adjustments to the GbCC learning technologies, and (b) develop more informed and and aligned pedagogies for teaching in socially-mediated and generative learning environments

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Uncomfortable Truth About the Hoboken Public Schools: State Scores and District Rankings are at Historically Low Levels

Parcc 2018 Flyer by on Scribd

These scores and rankings do not indicate that the Hoboken School District is anywhere close to being a "model of excellence" for anything- let alone for diverse communities. Such statements are a mockery and are insulting to anyone paying attention to the Hoboken Public Schools. Thankfully for people overseeing education in the Hoboken district, there is no active news coverage of the district other than the public relation releases the district sends to the local newspapers. Issues related to the new QSAC scores will be addressed in an upcoming post.

Furthermore, the 2018 New Jersey Monthly Magazine ranking of NJ school districts finds the Hoboken School District dropping 48 spots and is now ranked 260th out of 300 school districts in NJ. Only in Hoboken is dropping 48 slots on a statewide independent ranking considered "making improvement" or warrants assurances that students are "college ready" or gets a superintendent an extension on a contract.

                                                       2018  2016            City                               County
2018 New Jersey Monthly Magazine- Best High Schools in NJ Issue

Thursday, January 24, 2019

2018-19 ASSA Report Shows District Enrollment Concentrated in Early Grades- Exodus Begins in Middle School; 143 Out of Town "Choice" Students Keeping the High School Margainally Operational

Proposed Development Project- Hoboken NJ (Middle School included)
The following is the 2018-2019 "October 15" Report which reports on the enrollment of the Hoboken Public School District. A quick look at the left hand column clearly shows the very low enrollment starting in Grade 6. There appears to be a mass exodus from the traditional Hoboken Public Schools beginning in Middle School. This chart also clearly shows that there are 143 "choice" students in the district (concentrated primarily in Hoboken High School). Without the influx of choice students from out of town and out of the district, Hoboken High School's enrollment numbers would be around 300 a building that was designed and created for 1501. 
Other Links on Enrollment: Link 1; Link 2; Link 3

Click to Enlarge
Hoboken High School Capacity 1501

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

In Memorium -Frances Duff (nee Fusco)

Frances Duff (nee Fusco), of Avon-by-the Sea, New Jersey and Key Largo, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, January 19, 2019 in the presence of her devoted husband, Ed. Born in Jersey City, Frances attended local public schools and graduated from Montclair State University. 
She enjoyed a long career as a teacher in the Hoboken public schools including many years at Hoboken High School. As an educator, her commitment to students was boundless. In addition to being a teacher, she served as a long-time coach of the Hoboken High School Majorette Corps. She was also the faculty advisor for various extra-curricular and social activities. Frances was revered by the many students she taught and coached. Her dedication ultimately led to her induction into the Hoboken High School Sports Hall of Fame. Upon retirement, Frances and Ed enjoyed an active lifestyle spending winters at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, and summers along the ocean in Avon-by-the Sea, New Jersey. 
In addition to Edward, Frances is survived by her adoring sister Joan M. Caruso, brothers-in-law Patsy Totaro, Thomas Duff and his wife Sara and an endeared sister-in-law Mary Pendrick. Also surviving is a host of cherished nieces and nephews, Nicholas Caruso, Jr. and his wife Karla, Maryanne Caruso, John and his wife Melissa, Patricia Brando and her husband Mario, Roseanne Totaro, Steven Duff and his wife, Wendy, Aaron and his wife Carolyn and Siobhan Duff. Frances was predeceased by her parents Rose (nee DeGise) and Frank Fusco, a loving sister Margaret Totaro, two endeared aunts, Carmela DeGise and Elizabeth Damato, brothers-in-law Nicholas J. Caruso, Sr., Gerard Pendrick and a sister-in-law Susan Duff. 
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to share in the celebration of the Eucharist at the funeral mass on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Everyone is asked to gather at St. Ann's RC Church, (7th & Jefferson Street) in Hoboken no later than 10:45 AM. The funeral mass will be offered by her nephew, Father Thomas Pendrick at 11AM. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington, New Jersey. There will be no visitation at the funeral home. 
Parking will be available on Madison Street, directly behind the church. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers to Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital or to the charity of your choice. FAILLA FUNERAL HOME 533 WILLOW AVE HOBOKEN , NJ 07030 (201) 659-0082
Published in The Jersey Journal on Jan. 23, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hoboken Middle School Enrollment Dropping Despite Claims by Superintendent Johnson and Board Member Kluepfel that "enrollment continues to grow"

Hoboken Board of Education

According to an article by Marilyn Baer of the Hoboken Reporter (January 11, 2019) we read:
"In the past Johnson and Board of Education members have said they may need more seats for students in the coming years. “If enrollment continues to grow at the rate we’re seeing recently, we will surely face the need for additional space or buildings,” said then-school board president Thomas Kluepfel a year and a half ago at a school board meeting." -Hoboken Reporter (1/11/19)

It is a confusing and uncomfortable day when people who are given the public trust for making decisions about the education of a town's youth and to be an honest and truthful voice of data and information to a city's citizens do not meet even minimal expectations.

In a previous post I pointed out that district enrollment in Hoboken was not growing at all and in fact was flat at best over the past twelve years with a slight downward trend. Some readers pointed out that the quotes by Superintendent Johnson and Board member Kluepfel centered on middle school enrollment. 

A quick analysis of middle school enrollment in the Hoboken Public School District clearly shows a downward trend and declining enrollment. For the chart below we took data frn the New Jersey Department of Education from 2010-11 to 2017-18 (the most current data available) and we took 6th, 7th, and 8th grade enrollment. The chart below looks at each grade in isolation as well as a total middle school enrollment (TOT= 6th + 7th + 8th).

Click to Enlarge
Middle School enrollment in Hoboken is trending downward (declining) NOT increasing.

One is left to wonder what have former Hoboken Board President Kluepfel and other members of the Hoboken Board of Education along with Superintendent Christine Johnson choose to promote a false narrative of the "growing enrollment" in the Hoboken School District? 

Is it to offset the perception of the inadequate education students are receiving? 
Is it to try to justify the "need" for the funding for construction of a new school? 
Is it because there is a perception that people simply do not care? 

Whatever the reason--- the data over the past 8 years shows clearly that any claim of enrollment growth or the need for additional space due to enrollment growth in the middle school is without warrant and possibly a deliberate misstatement. 

Perhaps there is a good reason why a recent developer kickback was directed to a parent organization and not to the Hoboken Board of Education....