Edward A. Williams, of Gloucester City; VFW Commander, Teamster Local 676, Vietnam War Marine Vet
CNBNews Spotlight on NJ College Students

YOUR MONEY: How Should Schools Spend Millions Coming to New Jersey

[New Jersey – June 22, 2021] With billions of federal dollars coming into New Jersey through COVID relief funding, JerseyCAN, a nonprofit advocating for high-quality schools for all New Jersey students, launched today a centralized multimedia platform to assist local districts and charter schools in advancing new strategies and programs to accelerate learning.  Anchoring the platform are a series of evidence-based case studies and videos showcasing promising practices at the classroom, school and district levels that have already been developed and implemented across the Garden State.  The platform can be found HERE.

Screen Shot 2021-06-04 at 22.31.22Gloucester High School, Gloucester City, NJ (CNBNews photo)

 
Based on state and federal requirements, local districts and public charter schools are currently faced with devising customized plans for how to spend new funds effectively.  With the school year ending and specific spending plans due for approval in the fall, the JerseyCAN platform offers replicable strategies and evidence-based practices to address students’ and families’ educational and social-emotional needs as well as aligned support for educators. 
 
Today’s announcement builds on a JerseyCAN study defining the impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey students. This research projected that approximately 393,000 students in ELA and 430,000 students in Math in grades 3-8 would not be on grade level by the end of this school year. This includes students who were not on grade level before the pandemic and those projected to be off-grade level due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.  The full report can be found HERE.   
 
“Right now, education leaders across the state are trying to figure out how to best, and most strategically, define an COVID education recovery plan and ultimately spend this new influx of federal dollars,” stated Janellen Duffy, Senior Advisor, JerseyCAN.  “Our digital platform looks to bring our state together and showcase the many great educational innovations and programs that have already been developed and executed.  This is an historic moment to improve education across New Jersey, but most of all, a real opportunity to share, communicate and implement best practices and scale these great ideas statewide.  The bottom line is that we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Many of the answers we need can already be found right here in New Jersey.”
 
Today’s launch includes a series of videos highlighting specific programs currently developed at the local level, with case studies that provide supporting information.  These videos and case studies serve as examples of the best practices found in our recent JerseyCAN report, A Framework to Accelerate Learning, which curated research from across the country and can be found HERE.    Such best practices include high-dosage tutoring programs; intensive summer learning initiatives; investment in social and emotional learning (SEL) and well-being; developing individualized learning plans; building innovative staffing solutions and ensuring the use of high-quality, inclusive curriculum.  As part of the initiative, there is a heavy emphasis on explaining specific local models in each of these core areas.  For example:
 

  • Student and Family Engagement:  Best practices include the extensive family outreach done by West Side High School in Newark and Cresthaven Academy in Plainfield, intensive social and emotional education and support provided by Collingswood District, and a focus on student voice in Logan Township District.

 

  • High Quality, Inclusive Curriculum, Instruction and Training: For example, innovative approaches have been taken by Logan Township, which is applying its WIN (What I Need) Strategy for students initially employed in the younger grades and using this now for the middle school students.

 

  • Educator Support and Innovative Staffing:  Examples include College Achieve Paterson which reconfigured teaching schedules and added after-school and Saturday tutoring sessions during remote instruction to adapt to staff and students’ needs, as well as enhanced their summer learning program. In addition, Newark Public Schools innovated with collaborative teaching models, including a pilot to extend the reach of an AP Biology teacher to students in another school remotely.  Great Oaks Legacy Charter School continued high dosage tutoring, where their tutor Fellows are embedded in their school community, a critical component of their model.

 

  • Effective Resource Allocation and Equitable Systems:  Examples include Logan Township who sought competitive state grant funding when faced with a state aid funding cut; Paul Robeson Charter School, where forward-thinking technology planning helped ease their transition to remote learning; and College Achieve Paterson, which is making one-time investments in teacher pay increases for summer school and summer programming focused on college readiness.

 

  • Data for Understanding Student Learning: One leader in this area is the Mount Olive Township School District, which created Fingertip Profiles to indicate each student’s reading level in grades 6-11 and offered standards-based learning progressions for data-informed goal setting.  In Mount Olive, each student was given customized support and the district piloted Personalized Learning Plans, where each student created individual goals in four areas: Love of Learning, Academic, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Wellness.
     
    “This last year has been an extremely challenging moment for our public education system. Teachers are exhausted, parents are concerned, and so many students now suffer from significant learning loss and need to catch up.  In addition, the global pandemic has helped shine a light on the great inequities that many of our families face,” statedVivian Cox Frazier, President and CEO of the Urban League of Essex County.  “The funds New Jersey will be receiving from the federal government offer literally a once in a generation opportunity.  We must address this moment strategically and support our education leaders.  JerseyCAN’s new platform is a game-changer.  It not only provides great ideas that should be replicated but highlights the specific and proven solutions that we know will work in New Jersey.” 
About JerseyCAN
JerseyCAN: The New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now is a nonprofit organization that advocates for all students across the state to have access to high-quality schools. We work to improve policies and programs to support equity and excellence in New Jersey education.

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