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TEST SCORES RISING IN NJ’S URBAN DISTRICTS

ABBOTT REMEDIES TAKING HOLD

Just released state data show sizable gains by elementary school students in New Jersey's urban or "Abbott" districts in 2004, continuing a positive trend that began in 1999.

In a public comment, NJ Education Commissioner William Librera described the increase as "never been seen before, the kind of results the Abbott decisions have been designed to produce. They really speak for themselves, and we are really encouraged."

The data show:

  • An 8.2 percentage point increase among all Abbott students in language arts literacy (LAL) scores on the state fourth grade test from 2003 to 2004, with twelve Abbott districts making one-year gains of 10 percent or more
  • An 8.7 percentage point gain among all Abbott students in mathematics scores on the state fourth grade test from 2003 to 2004, with fourteen Abbott districts making one-year gains of 10 percent or more

Dr. Erain Applewhite-Coney, Co-Director of ELC's Abbott Indicators Project pointed to the remedies ordered by the NJ Supreme Court in the landmark Abbott v. Burke case as the catalyst for these strong and steady gains. The Abbott remedies include universal preschool; adequate K-12 funding for standards-based education; small classes, tutors and other "supplemental programs;" new and renovated facilities; and whole school reform.

"Evidence is growing that Abbott resources, and the focus on improving curriculum and instruction, are working in our high poverty urban schools," Dr. Applewhite-Coney said.

Joseph Ferraina, superintendent of Long Branch schools commented that "[w]ithout a doubt, the [Abbott] money was important, but the Supreme Court did some remarkable things in its rulings," referring to the programs and reforms also ordered by the Court.

According to ELC Executive Director David Sciarra, "Abbott is proving that adequate funding matters, when combined with strong measures to support quality teaching and student well-being."