Anne H. Gallagher, NJASA Director of Communications
609-599-2900, ext. 126
Community support needed in at-risk districts to make this program a ‘home run’
TRENTON, N.J. — May 7, 2012 — New Jersey’s most troubled schools will be getting more ‘hands on’ help from the state to turn around persistent academic failure and close achievement gaps, a move that the New Jersey Association of School Administrators applauds as an effective alternative to the federal program, No Child Left Behind.
“No Child Left Behind mandates blanket changes across the board while the new accountability program allows the state to target schools rather than school districts,” noted Richard Bozza, Ed.D., executive director of the NJASA. “This change will start to address the specific barriers to learning that are present in schools in underserved areas.”
In February, New Jersey received a waiver from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind, a one-size-fits-all federal program. The state then developed its own accountability system of Priority, Focus and Reward schools. Of the 2,500 schools in New Jersey, the state identified 258 at-risk schools and 112 high-achieving schools for the program.
It’s anticipated that the state will manage this program via satellite bureaus known as Regional Achievement Centers.
“Chief Education Officers will be working closely with the state to remove barriers to learning in these schools,” said Dr. Bozza. “But that’s not the greatest challenge that we face. It’s minimizing the effects of circumstances outside of school—from poverty to gang violence—that can hinder educational progress. There is a lot that can be done to ‘clean up’ these areas and minimize these negative effects. We’re calling on the communities to step up to the plate and make this program a home run.”