2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Charter Schools Score: 72%
New Jersey has a weak charter school law which denies charters autonomy.
New Jersey only allows one entity to authorize charter schools, the state board of education. Recently there has been a regulatory push to replicate some of New Jersey’s existing charter schools instead of pushing more alternative innovative models. While there is nothing wrong with supporting the existing model for charter schools, by limiting charter school innovation students get harmed.
New Jersey’s ranking in CER’s National charter school law ranking is again a low C.
The state’s grade is buoyed by the fact that New Jersey’s law does not have a charter school cap. However, a lack of multiple authorizers, heavy regulations on schools, and lack of equitable funding affect the Garden State’s score.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed: 1996
- Number of Charters: 138
- Estimated Charter Enrollment: 48,900 (up 10percent from 2015-16)
- New Jersey does not cap the growth of charter schools
- Virtual Charter Schools are permitted
- Charter Schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management services
- A study by the University of Arkansas concluded that charter schools in Camden received 45percent less in per pupil spending than traditional public schools
- New Jersey earned three out of fifteen points for authorizers. It has only one entity which is able to authorize charter schools, the New Jersey State Charter Commission, which is appointed by the commissioner of education. Further decisions by the state charter commission are not subject to appeal, meaning that applicants have no recourse for an arbitrary decision. While the commission is preferable to having solely districts authorize schools having multiple entities who are able to authorize charter schools (even districts) would be preferable because it would provide another option for charter schools to be authorized which may better fit the needs of the specific school. Having a variety of schools that operate differently is the hallmark of a successful charter school environment and only one authorizer ensures that this will not happen. Additionally with only one authorizer, there is a large potential for regulations. Every charter school needs to be authorized by the same entity and cannot pick one that is less regulative.
- New Jersey earned twelve out of fifteen points for growth. While New Jersey does not cap the number of charter schools in the state, the charter sector has stagnated and not grown much in the past few years, especially when compared to the growth in the number of charter school seats.
- New Jersey earned a nine out of twenty for operations. This is because waiver requests from regulations must be in the charter application placing charter schools at the mercy of the department and the State Board of Education ,meaning they have functionally no operational autonomy without their authorizers consent. This is problematic because charter schools need to be able to have operational independence from regulations in order to be successful. Having to ask in your application for waivers denies charters this autonomy and only serves to make them far less effective hurting the students attending them. Additionally, charter school teachers must be certified in the same manner that traditional public school teachers are. The effect of this policy is that it prevents individuals who have not gone through the bureaucratic measures of teacher certification from working with students even if the charter schools thinks they are the right individual for the job.
New Jersey earned a six out of fifteen for funding equity. The New Jersey State Charter School Law requires districts to pay for each student enrolled in the charter who resides in the district an amount equal to the lower of either 90 percent of the program budget per pupil or 90 percent of the “Thorough and Efficient Funding” amount, which is defined in state law. The money that charter schools receive is often much less because they do not receive adjustment aid given to districts under the School Funding Reform Act. Districts can charge up to ten percent for administrative fees. New Jersey’s law does not provide any facilities funding.
Online Learning Score: 62%
New Jersey continues to work to support districts as they incorporate technology and digital learning into their curricula. Although no full-time virtual programs operate in New Jersey, several digital programs provide supplemental digital course options to districts and schools across the state.
Teacher Quality Score: 78%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C+
Identifying Effective Teachers C+
Retaining Effective Teachers C
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C