NJ charters get great grad rates

Full post of press release from NJ Charter Assoc (since they don’t seem to have it posted on their site).  This is great news for Newark in particular but for folks like  Stig & DeShawn at the Newark Fund, Melanie Schulz at the leg, Heather Ngoma at Rutgers and a great group of operators.

Trenton, May 5, 2009 – Graduation rates in all nine New Jersey charter public high schools that graduated seniors last year were higher than both the statewide graduation rate for high schools and for the individual district high schools where charter high schools also operate.

“This is a signal accomplishment for our charter public high schools,” said Jessani Gordon, executive director of the New Jersey Charter Public Schools Association, noting, “We are especially pleased to note and report this fact during the week of May 3, which is National Charter Public Schools Week.” New Jersey’s 62 charter public schools include eleven high schools. Nine of them had graduating classes last year. The other two will have their first graduating classes in 2011.

The 2008 graduation rates for charter public high schools as reported recently by the New Jersey Department of Education ranged from 95 to 100 percent in all nine of the schools, exceeding the statewide high school graduation rate of 92.8 percent last year. They also far exceeded the high school graduation rates in the school districts in which they are located, which in some districts was as low as 65 percent.

The four charter public high schools with a 100 percent graduation rate in 2008 were North Star Academy, Newark; Camden Academy Charter High School; LEAP Academy University Charter School, Camden; and Hoboken Charter High School.

“Charter public high schools, like all charter public schools, are succeeding because they are willing and able to seek and utilize innovations in teaching and school organization to deliver a new brand of public education,” said Gordon, adding, “We congratulate New Jersey’s charter public high schools for these achievements.”

She noted that charter public high school graduation rates “reflect that our schools have specific missions to increase the academic focus and do what it takes to assure that children get what they need educationally to succeed. This takes the form of greater personal attention, remediation to bring kids up to grade level, longer school days and school years and a commitment by administrative staff and faculty to the success of individual students.” Gordon also noted that there is evidence that students who have graduated from charter schools are successfully completing college as well. Many charter schools are tracking their graduates to provide needed support throughout their college experience.

Unlike the regular district schools, New Jersey charter public schools receive no capital funding. “It is time to end this inequity so that charter public schools are not forced to divert money from classroom teaching to classroom construction and maintenance,” said Gordon, also noting that charter public schools are seeking an additional $3.5 million to hold pending state budget cuts to no more than 4 percent per student.

The New Jersey Charter School Program Act took effect January 1, 1996 and has expanded to 62 schools enrolling over 19,000 students statewide, including 80 percent in the state’s poorest districts (a.k.a. Abbotts). New Jersey’s charter public schools serve a higher percentage of minority and at-risk students than traditional district schools and are in great demand with 11,000 children on entrance waiting lists. Six new charter public schools are expected to open this fall.

The NJCPSA is the membership and professional organization of New Jersey’s charter public schools, with a mission to advance educational choice for New Jersey’s children through quality public charter schools.

To learn more please visit us at www.njcharters.org.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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