Author Topic: Education/Charter Schools/Testing  (Read 48647 times)

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #120 on: September 20, 2013, 03:26:22 PM »
Hackensack district names new superintendent
Friday, September 20, 2013
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

HACKENSACK After a months-long search, the Hackensack School District has a new head at the healm as Karen Lewis was named superintendent, finalizing her contract on Sept. 9. Lewis is an assistant superintendent in the Highland Park district, in Middlesex County, according to Board Attorney Richard E. Salkin, and is set to receive $167,000 annually as per her five-year contract and as "permitted by the state for a district this size."

The Board of Education was searching for a replacement for current interim Superintendent Joseph Abate for a few months. "By law, he could only be employed until the end of November," board President Veronica Bolcik McKenna said. "Weve been working to find a replacement since springtime." Lewis is set to start on Dec. 1, while Abate is expected to leave his position on Nov. 30. According to both Salkin and McKenna, there will be a time overlap allowing Lewis to become acclimated in her new district role by working alongside Abate before she leaves.

The superintendent search process included "various meetings with administrators, teachers, and the community," McKenna said. According to McKenna, there were eight candidates who were narrowed down to three individuals that underwent extensive interviewing and onsite observations, among other criteria.

Though he was not part of the search, Board Secretary Mark Kramer, further explained that the search firm Leadership Advantage assisted the district in its superintendent search by speaking with administrators, the community, faculty, and even posting the job opening in its network. McKenna mentioned that the district also wanted stability in that position with someone to head the district for a longer stretch period of time.

In an interview with The Record, Lewis said that Hackensack impressed her. "Hackensack interested me because it is a large, very diverse community, and I think it offers a great program and a quality academic program," she said. "Id like to be part of moving that tradition forward. According to McKenna, the Board is confident that Lewis will do a good job. "She was the candidate that best matched what we were looking for," she said. "She has a strong academic achievement record. She is able to be fair. She is a focused leader.We are all very excited to have her here."

Email: vazquez@northjersey.com

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #121 on: September 20, 2013, 03:41:25 PM »
Hackensack Police investigating theft of school iPads
Friday, September 20, 2013
CORRESPONDENT
 
HACKENSACK As a new academic year got under way this week at Hackensack High School, school officials are getting ready for the second year of their "iPad initiative."

And as administrators distribute the Apple tablets to all incoming freshmen, the Chronicle has learned that they have also been working to recover 52 of the popular devices that went missing since last September.

And since last October, Hackensack police have charged four students with theft.

In a telephone interview, interim Superintendent Joseph Abate confirmed the district has filed police reports for the missing iPads.

Abate said it has "aggressively" pursued the recovery of the expensive tablet computers.

"We've been getting them back," Abate, who explained that the insurance policy requires the district to file a police report, said.

According to police reports, many iPads were allegedly stolen from gym lockers and after the devices were left unattended at various locations.

In some cases, students filed a police reports days, or weeks, after their iPad went missing.

Police have been able to charge four students. Available details of the incidents were limited.

According to Detective Thomas Salcedo, on Oct. 25, 2012, a 14-year-old boy and a 14-year-girl who were Hackensack High School students were charged with receiving stolen property for being in possession of an iPad that was reported stolen.

Police said the iPad was stolen during a school assembly. The theft was recorded by the school's video surveillance system.

On Dec. 21, 2012, a 14-year-old male student was charged with one count of theft.

Police said during class, a student went to the bathroom. When he returned his iPad was missing. Students in the class told the teacher that the 14-year-old took the iPad. When the student was confronted, he removed the iPad from his bag.

Then on Feb. 7, police said a 17-year-old boy was charged with theft after "he walked up to another student and demanded he turn over the iPad." The student complied.

Initially, school officials said that 43 iPads were reported stolen, and that no students were charged by police.

Asked about the students who were charged, Abate said: "I'm not aware of those facts. I can't comment."

Abate added that the students who were charged no longer attend Hackensack High School. It remains unclear what disciplinary action, if any, was taken.

According to an email from Adrain Cepero, the district technology coordinator, of the 43 iPads the district said were reported stolen "eight were replaced through insurance." The remaining 35 claims were denied since iPads were left unattended or unsecured somewhere others had access.

Cepero said three iPads were recovered by police, and one was returned by a "good Samaritan."

Even when insurance does cover the cost of a replacement iPad, the district is on the hook for a $100 deductible for each iPad.

"We felt it might be a financial burden for some families to pay," Cepero said in a telephone interview. "We didn't know each individual family's financial situation."

Cepero said there were also nine iPads that were "reported lost and later found on campus using tracking technology."

According to the District Technology Plan, Hackensack seeks "to have all students with an iPad by 2015-2016."

During the last 15 months, the district has approved several purchases from Apple.

According to the minutes of Board of Education meetings, in June 2012 the district first approved the purchase of 590 iPads for staff and students "for $579 per unit for a cost of $341,610."

In December 2012, the district spent $57,900 for 100 iPads for the high school's Bilingual/ESL Student Program.

At the same meeting, two separate resolutions were approved to insure a total of 200 iPads for the program at a total cost of $29,800.

In June 2013, the district purchased 700 iPads, 25 iMac computers and 50 Apple TVs "for wireless mirroring to classroom projectors." According to the resolution approving the purchase, "the District has secured a 3-year, 0 percent interest, dollar-buyout lease through Apple Financial Services."

The deal gives the district "the option to trade-in, or "refresh" leased iPads after two or three years and receive credit for each device at fair market value towards the purchase of new devices."

The total cost is "not to exceed $444,450, to be paid in three annual payments of $148,148.05."

Incoming freshman are scheduled to receive their iPads sometime in mid-September, according to Cepero.

"Currently iPads not recovered will be replaced from our current supply, but I am exploring replacing them in the future through the purchase of refurbished iPads at a lower cost if necessary," Cepero explained via email.

Abate characterized the thefts as "the norm" in any school.

"When we entered this program with Apple we were advised that we would face 5 to 10 percent [in losses]", said Abate. "We're talking about percentages that are below the norm. While I'm concerned, I'm not overly concerned."

North Jersey Media Group Inc.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/224520051_Hackensack_Police_investigating_theft_of_school_iPads.html?page=all#sthash.qkHMfWHK.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #122 on: September 22, 2013, 09:07:42 PM »
Cops halt checks of students residency
Saturday, September 21, 2013
BY  HANNAN ADELY
STAFF WRITER
The Record

HACKENSACK City police officers no longer will be permitted to work for the school district in residency fraud investigations.

Police Director Michael Mordaga said he will bar officers from doing that work starting on Nov. 1 to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The Board of Education employs police officers on a $120-a-case basis to make sure Hackensack students are residents of district.

"Most boards of education do not use the police department for this, and I feel that theyre probably better off hiring their own people," said Mordaga, police director since February. "We want to avoid a conflict and any appearance of impropriety."

For instance, he said, he didnt want to give the appearance that police officers were doing the investigations on their regular shifts. The head of the departments youth division receives cases from the school district and assigns them to officers to carry out on their own time.

Questions of impropriety were raised when the former head of the youth division, Capt. Tomas Padilla, revealed in a court deposition last year that he took payment for residency investigations that were performed by his officers. Padilla claimed the payment was the result of an agreement with the superintendent at the time.

Students are required to live in the city to attend its schools, but there have been cases in which families used an address of a friend or relative to gain admission. Its a problem in numerous school districts, and typically the motive is access to better education and programs. Many districts hire investigators to identify and remove those students as a cost-saving measure.

The Hackensack district spent an average of $18,591 to educate each student in 2011-12, according to the state Department of Education. While cutting student rolls saves money, the cost impact of removing students varies depending on factors like staffing.

In the last school year, police officers investigated 68 cases through June, earning a combined $9,045. In 27 of those cases, investigators found students lived out of district. In the previous school year, officers earned $6,375.

Those amounts are much less than what the district paid the two prior years $25,750 and $25,250, respectively for police to investigate residency cases. Interim Superintendent Joseph Abate said police directly managed residency investigations in that time, but he didnt work in the district then and did not know why the charges were two to three times higher.

In addition to the $120 per case, the department now also gets a $10 administrative fee per case.

Abate said the district will post a job ad for a part-time residency officer who will be paid a stipend, but the amount hasnt been determined. The job is ideal for retired law enforcement officers, he said.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/hackensack/224677752_Cops_halt_checks_ofstudents_residency.html#sthash.mmBOw0J6.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #123 on: October 11, 2013, 02:55:02 PM »
Hackensack High School designated as Focus School
Friday, October 11, 2013
BY  JENNIFER VAZQUEZ
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

Despite being named one of the top high schools by Newsweek last year, Hackensack High School has been designated a Focus School for the 2012-2013 school year, by the New Jersey Department of Education.


Hackensack High School has been designated a 'focus' school for the 2012-2013 school year by the New Jersey Department of Education due to achievement gaps between different subgroups of students. This latest designation is in contrast to the school being named one of the top schools by Newsweek last year.
BERNADETTE MARCINIAK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Assistant Superintendent Rosemary Marks stated, during the Sept. 16 Board of Education meeting, that the HHS was labeled a Focus School despite being named a top school by Newsweek because both entities look at different criteria.

During the previous school year, Newsweek ranked Hackensack High School as one of the top high schools taking into consideration graduation rates, college acceptance rates, AP/IB/AICE tests taken by students, average SAT/ACT and AP/IB/AICE scores, and the percentage of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course.

However, Newsweek's and NJDOE's criteria differ.

Marks explained that a school can be designated a Focus School if it falls into one of three categories: a school with a wide achievement gaps between high performing students and particular subgroups; an overall low proficiency rate; or a low graduation rate. Hackensack High School falls into the first category.

"We had an extremely high level of performance by our students," Marks said. However, there was a gap between the high performers and two subgroups the bilingual/ESL [English as a Second Language] and special education.

"In both cases, you are looking at students that fall under specialized groups that are small," she explained. "Since the groups are so small, if you have three or four students that don't do well, that can skew the entire school performance."

Interim Superintendent Joseph Abate further explained.

"Hackensack High School was labeled a Focus School because of discrepancies," he said. "There was a difference between the special education scores and the rest of the student body. The same for the bilingual/ESL students and the general student body."

Director of Information for the New Jersey Department of Education Michael Yaple stated that though Hackensack High School was labeled a Focus school, overall it performed very well.

According to Marks, when the state entered a No Child Left Behind waiver, students that were once exempt from taking the High School Proficiency Assessment such as non-English speakers who were in the United States school system for less than three years would now have to take the exam, which is in English, regardless of their language skills.

"That exception is no longer there," Marks said, citing this change has influenced the outcome as well as the fact that the NJDOE came up with a new grading system for school performance last year.

When a school is labeled a Focus School, it receives specific and targeted intervention and plans by a Regional Achievement Center. The NJDOE launched seven field-based RACs, "charged with driving improvement in New Jersey's most struggling schools," as per its website.

In a press release from April 11, 2012, the NJDOE defined a Focus School as "a school that has room for improvement in areas that are specific to the school.

"RACs are relatively new creation think of it as a bureau where staff can work with the school," Yaple said. "Their sole goal is to provide individualized, tailored instruction to the school. It is an ongoing. The idea is to identify the area that needs improvement and provide tools to address these areas."

Though the discrepancy between the general population and bilingual/ESL subgroup was a key point in the high school being labeled a Focus School, and prior to RAC's intervention, the school implemented, roughly two years ago, a parent and community outreach coordinator a position with a goal of informing students and parents, with a particular focus on the bilingual population, of school expectations and viable options "for our children," according to Marks, "whether it be a certificate, associates degree, bachelors degree, or beyond.

"The more parents are involved, it has been proven the more children are, and the greater their advantage."

In addition, due to being labeled a Focus school, district officials introduced a new faculty position a data lead teacher to assist in compiling data and performance information with a focus on student examination. According to Marks, this has allowed for teachers to delve deeper into data analysis without them taking time from their schedule to compile such information. Subsequently, when information is compiled, teachers have a better grasp as to specific exam questions and therefore subject area the majority of the students have trouble with and can therefore, tackle these issues.

According to state regulations, Focus School interventions will continue for a minimum of two years, however during this time a school could exit status if all requirements for improvement are met.

Abate echoed this point.

"[The Regional Achievement Centers] complimented us for working diligently," he said during a phone interview. "They are confident that after this year we no longer will be labeled a 'focus' school."

Marks contended the same.

"We have a very collaborative relationship," she said. "They have been very supportive. It has been an extremely positive experience."

Yaple further explained the NJDOE's expectations.

"The federal government requires sustained improvement, so the school would need to demonstrate that it has closed the identified achievement gap over a two-year period for it to no longer be considered a Focus school," he said in an email.

Calls to Hackensack High School principal James Montesano were not returned.

Email: vazquez@northjersey.com

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/227336321_Hackensack_High_School_designated_as_Focus_School.html?page=all#sthash.ECcZwdmU.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #124 on: October 12, 2013, 01:23:36 AM »
I am not surprised that the high school has been designated as a Focus School.  While testing of special education and ESL students are credited as being the cause of the determination.  There has consistently been a large achievement gap between whites and all other subgroups .  The schools website list a report which has not been updated since 2010 reflecting HSPA scores.   It is clear their has been this gap for years.  Each year, the Board sets a goal to close the achievement gap but obviously has not achieved that goal.  If it had, the high school would not be a Focus school.  Success for all groups is a success for Hackensack children and taxpayers.  People move to a district where the schools are excellent.  People move when it is not. 

The website should include an update to the report posted in 2010. Then an accurate assessment can be evaluated.   See, http://www.hackensackschools.org/files/312601/2009-10%20state%20assessment%20report.pdf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #125 on: November 15, 2013, 01:44:10 PM »
Hackensack presents school data during Board of Education meeting
Friday, November 15, 2013 
BY  JENNIFER VAZQUEZ
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle
   
HACKENSACK Assistant superintendent Rosemary Marks, along with district principals, presented school data of standardized examinations during the Oct. 21 Board of Education meeting explaining the targets each school met and the subjects which students fell short.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/232014601_Hackensack_presents_school_data_during_Board_of_Education_meeting.html?page=all#sthash.bx7gJFbD.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #126 on: June 01, 2014, 10:03:40 PM »
Hackensack school event coaches immigrant parents on helping their kids
MAY 31, 2014, 6:15 PM   
LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2014, 9:11 PM
BY AARON MORRISON
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD

HACKENSACK Immigrant parents should immerse themselves in their new communities and create learning environments in their homes, if they want their children to get the most out of an American education.

That was the message for about 60 families who attended the first-ever Family Academy at the citys Jackson Avenue School on Saturday.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/hackensack-school-event-coaches-immigrant-parents-on-helping-their-kids-1.1026938#sthash.hRblIktp.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #127 on: June 03, 2014, 12:03:12 AM »
ACLU: Hackensack, East Rutherford violate law by asking parents to show photo ID when registering students
JUNE 2, 2014, 1:21 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2014, 6:18 PM
BY HANNAN ADELY
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD

Responding to pressure by a state civil-liberties group, the East Rutherford school board may consider changes to a policy that requires parents to show photo identification when registering children for school, a policy that discriminates against immigrants, the group contends.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said the district was one of 27 in the state that continues to ask parents to show photo identification when they register their children, in violation of state regulations. The organization announced Monday that it is suing seven of those districts in Camden, Middlesex and Atlantic counties that have the most restrictive policies.

It is deeply troubling that in New Jersey today, public schools discriminate against immigrant families, and do so despite repeated warnings to come into compliance with clearly established law, said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU New Jersey chapter. Immigrant children have an equal right to access a public school education, and schools must not erect barriers that prevent the exercise of this right.

The organization sued the districts that specifically require a drivers licenses or other county- or state-issued identification. The districts that were not sued also accept other forms of photo identification.

Hackensack was the only other Bergen County district included in the groups list of districts that are not in compliance. Richard Salkin, the school board attorney, said that was a mistake.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/aclu-hackensack-east-rutherford-violate-law-by-asking-parents-to-show-photo-id-when-registering-students-1.1027538#sthash.XHvGYHSW.dpuf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #128 on: August 19, 2014, 11:13:26 AM »
Hackensack High School status remains unclear
August 15, 2014    Last updated: Friday, August 15, 2014, 12:31 AM
By Jennifer Vazquez
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

Superintendent Karen Lewis said the district does not know the current status of the high school after it was classified as a Focus School in 2013.

HACKENSACK District officials do not know the current status of the high school after it was classified as a Focus School last year due to an achievement gap between the general student population and subgroups.

"I met with the state in regard to the status and I asked when we were going to find out whether or not we were out of status," said Superintendent Karen Lewis during the July 26 Board of Education meeting. "We were told they do not have an exit plan at this point so we don't know."

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/focus-school-status-unclear-1.1067936

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #130 on: April 14, 2016, 09:15:55 PM »
The NJ Dept. of Education still lists HHS as a focus school as of Oct. 21, 2015:

http://www.state.nj.us/education/reform/PFRschools/PriorityFocusSchools.pdf

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #131 on: April 14, 2016, 10:49:34 PM »
Definition of Priority, Focus or Reward Status:


New Jersey's ESEA waiver application included a detailed methodology for identifying Priority, Focus, and Reward Schools. Below is a short definition of each category:

Priority Schools

A Priority School is a school that has been identified as among the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools in the state over the past three years, or any non-Title I school that would otherwise have met the same criteria.

Focus Schools

Focus Schools comprise about 10% of schools with the overall lowest subgroup performance, a graduation rate below 75% and the widest gaps in achievement between different subgroups of students.  Focus Schools receive targeted and tailored solutions to meet the school's unique needs.

Reward Schools

A Reward School is a school that has achieved high proficiency levels or high levels of growth, including progress toward closing the achievement gap.  This allows for a range of schools from across the state to attain Reward status, regardless of their absolute starting point.


http://www.nj.gov/education/rac/schools/

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #132 on: April 15, 2016, 05:28:02 PM »
According to info presented earlier in this thread, HHS has been designated as a Focus school ever since the 2012-2013 academic year, despite expectations that it would only be a temporary situation.  From what Ive read, there has been a wide discrepancy between the performance of special needs and bilingual/ESL students relative to high performing students. 

I have not been a resident of NJ for many years, but I am concerned about equal educational opportunites for all HHS students.  Does anyone know what HHS is currently saying about this matter?  Have test scores of these two subgroups improved at all over the past couple of years?

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Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Reply #133 on: April 16, 2016, 08:18:36 PM »
The latest info Ive been able to find about academic achievement at HHS is a ranking of 339 NJ public high schools by New Jersey Monthly.  The report is dated Sept., 2014, but it covers data from the 2012-2013 academic year.  The rankings showed that HHS was ranked 242nd on their list, or in the bottom 1/3 of all state public high schools:

http://njmonthly.com/articles/towns-schools/top-schools-alphabetical-list/

For those who may be interested, here is the methodology that was used for the rankings:

http://njmonthly.com/articles/towns-schools/top-schools-2014-methodology/

This result is in stark contrast to the overwhelmingly positive evaluation from Newsweek, but is possibly due to differences in data interpretation and weightings.