New Jersey has among the highest levels of elementary and secondary education spending in the nation, accounting for at least 6.3 percent of the state’s GDP. But the impact of this investment is questionable, according to many prominent indicators.
Overall, more than half of New Jersey students are considered unprepared for success in college and the workforce based on benchmarks associated with the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In comparing all statewide trends with trends in major urban areas, disconcerting inequities emerge with on-time high school graduation rates in the most challenged school districts being dramatically lower.
The Garden State’s present school accountability system identifies Priority schools as the state’s bottom 5 percent in terms of student achievement, while Focus schools have notably wide achievement gaps. Collectively, these struggling schools serve more than 170,000 students. New Jersey must address the issues at these schools.
This paper examines systems of Performance Based Funding underway in other states, and includes specific recommendations for how such a model could be employed in New Jersey.
This approach represents a powerful way to address New Jersey’s uneven performance, and create a different, more incentivized funding regime: fund performance in terms of absolute achievement and growth instead of seat time.
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