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In 2010, six traditional New Jersey public schools were honored as part of the national Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Schools selected to be Blue Ribbon award recipients are honored for high levels of student achievement or improvement of student achievement to high levels, particularly focusing on disadvantaged students. The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices from across the nation. Blue Ribbon Schools are regularly praised by school reform advocates and the education establishment alike, and are considered to be an objective measure of schools that get excellent results for students.

Using the Blue Ribbon designation as a uniformly accepted marker of high or considerably improved student achievement, a look at the spending in Blue Ribbon schools underscores the fact that higher levels of spending simply do not translate to a better, fairer, or more effective education.

Five of the 6 traditional New Jersey schools recognized as Blue Ribbon have a lower per-pupil district spending figure than the statewide average. These schools prove that you do not have to overspend to achieve remarkable results. In contrast, districts receiving the overwhelming majority of State education aid spend a much higher amount per-pupil with lesser results.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Fort Lee School #3 Grant School, Ridgefield Park Lynn Crest Elementary School, Colonia (Woodbridge) MLK Elementary School, Edison Roosevelt Elementary School, North Arlington

$14,918 $14,654 $13,745 $13,850 $12,764

State of New Jersey Average Former Abbott District Average

$17,620

$20,420 (Source: USDOE, NCES, NJDOE)

The chasm between spending levels and performance is even clearer when Blue Ribbon schools from neighboring states are compared. In neighboring and similar states, the problem is just as stark. Per-pupil district spending figures for these high-achieving schools are dramatically lower than that of New Jersey’s former Abbott districts, the New Jersey statewide average, and comparable to New Jersey Blue Ribbon schools.

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