N.J. Gov. Christie Seeks Added Power on School Aid

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, November 18, 2011

The Christie administration wants to withhold state and federal aid to low-performing schools that refuse to undergo significant reshaping via measures such as removing principals and teachers, lengthening the school day and revamping the curriculum.

The new proposals are laid out in New Jersey's application for a waiver from the requirements of No Child Left Behind, the accountability system passed into law under former President George W. Bush. It's the state's strongest proposal yet to tie student performance to funding.

New Jersey is one of 11 states that applied on Tuesday for a waiver, asking that schools be judged based on student improvement on standardized tests instead of absolute test scores, which can be affected by socio-economic factors. New York state officials said they will apply for a waiver by a second deadline in February.

Under the proposals, the state would identify the highest- and lowest-performing schools—both overall and within subgroups of students—based on student test results

State intervention wouldn't be limited to punishing schools that reject changes. Schools that do well teaching at-risk students would be in line for extra money, according to the application.

The New Jersey Education Association, which had long been at odds with the governor's tone and proposals on education, said it supported much of what was in the waiver. The union, the larger of the two teachers unions in the New Jersey, met with state officials several times to develop the application.

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