‘Start Strong’ State Assessments Prove New Jersey’s Public Charter Schools  Accelerate Student Learning During Pandemic 

‘Start Strong’ State Assessments Prove New Jersey’s Public Charter Schools  Accelerate Student Learning During Pandemic

Students in NJ’s five largest charter cities are 32 percent more likely to approach or meet grade level  standards compared to district peers in English language arts, 55 percent more likely in math; State  Charter Association calls on Murphy Administration to expand high quality charter options to mitigate  learning loss crisis


HAMILTON, NJ – April 7, 2022 – Yesterday, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released school and district-level results from last fall’s Start Strong assessments. Administered in September and October of  2021, Start Strong is New Jersey’s first statewide exam that provides insight on how the coronavirus pandemic  and related school closures impacted student learning throughout New Jersey. Analysis shows students in the  state’s five largest charter cities – Newark, Trenton, Camden, Jersey City, and Paterson – are 32 percent more likely to approach or meet grade level standards in English language arts (ELA) and 55 percent more  likely to approach or meet grade level standards in mathematics compared to their traditional district  peers. These results clearly demonstrate that public charter schools have accelerated student learning for  low-income students of color during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Data from Trenton was especially  strong, with charters 78 percent and 157 percent more likely to approach or exceed grade level standards in ELA and in math, respectively.


Fall 2021 Start Strong Assessment, English Language Arts and Math, All Grades  Percent Approaching or Meeting Standards (Level 2 or 3)

“COVID-19 has upended the lives of every New Jerseyan, especially families who live in our most economically  challenged communities. The 2021 Start Strong results are undeniable: Public charter schools are providing  stable and welcoming learning environments that accelerate student learning for families of color and we must  provide more high-quality public charter school options to meet the learning loss crisis facing our state and  nation,” said Harry Lee, president of the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA). “With  20,000 students on charter school wait lists, we urge the Murphy Administration and Commissioner of  Education to support excellent public charter schools that provide a lifeline to families who are desperately  seeking the best education for their children.”

“During the last two years, public charter school educators did whatever it took to meet the needs of families  in their communities including providing technology for remote learning and delivering school meals for  hungry families,” said TJ Best, Director of Government Affairs for NJPCSA. “Public charter schools reopened  their doors for in-person instruction far earlier than most urban school districts throughout New Jersey,

helping to mitigate the severe disruptions in student learning caused by the pandemic. While there is still a  long road ahead, our schools are looking forward to collaborating with traditional district schools to ensure all  students get the support they need to not only grow academically, but also socially and emotionally.”

“From day one of the pandemic, we pivoted to meet the needs of students and families in Trenton by providing  them with internet connectivity and daily phone calls to ensure we stayed connected to students. We made  sure no child slipped through the cracks during this extremely challenging time. Our mission is to build a caring  school community that provides a personalized education, and we continue to remain steadfast in this  commitment,” said Freya Lund, School Director at Paul Robeson Charter School in Trenton which was  recently denied an expansion request to add students in Grades K-3 by NJDOE despite being recognized as a  Lighthouse District by the state for strong academic outcomes.

Jersey City Charters Outperform Statewide Average in ELA; Newark Charters Approach State Average  Public charter schools in Jersey City, which include some of the most diverse public schools in the state,  outperformed the state average in ELA with 73.7 percent of students approaching or meeting grade level  standards compared to 69.2 percent statewide. More than 60 percent of the 6,000 students enrolled in Jersey  City charter schools are eligible to receive free or reduced price lunch, and more than 3,200 students sit on  charter wait lists in Jersey City today. Despite serving far more low-income families than the state average,  charter schools in Jersey City have demonstrated strong learning gains during the last several years.

Newark, New Jersey’s largest charter sector with more than 20,000 students enrolled in charter schools,  closed in on statewide averages in ELA with public charter schools coming within five percentage points of the  state average. Nearly all of Newark’s public charter school students are students of color. Eighty-five percent  of Newark’s public charter school students come from economically disadvantaged communities and more  than ten percent are students with disabilities. More than 4,000 Newark students sit on charter wait lists  today.

New Data for the #LetMyChildLearn Campaign

In February, NJPCSA launched the #LetMyChildLearn campaign following the NJDOE’s denial of expansions  for high-performing charter schools in Newark, Trenton, Kearny, New Brunswick, and Paterson. Because of  these denials, hundreds of students will no longer be able to remain at the schools they love throughout their  educational careers. Decisions on reconsiderations of charter school denials are currently pending. NJPCSA  urges the NJDOE to utilize this new data when reconsidering these charter school denials to ensure that all  students can attend a public school that is accelerating learning and mitigating the devastating impacts of the  pandemic.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.letmychildlearn.org.



About New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association

The New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) is the non-profit membership association that  represents the state’s charter school community and, by extension, charter school students and their parents.  There are currently 87 charter schools in New Jersey serving nearly 60,000 students. We are committed to  advancing quality public education for New Jersey’s children through the cultivation of excellent public charter  schools. The Association seeks to influence legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy,  and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, public charter  schools.

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