2018 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Charter Schools Score: 72%
In this edition of CER’s rankings, New Jersey once again receives a low “C.” Although the state does not cap charter school growth, New Jersey’s law is weak, mainly because it limits the autonomy of charter operators. The commissioner of education (state education department) is New Jersey’s sole charter authorizer. The state supports the replication of existing, successful charters but it not committed to authorizing new, innovative, charter school as well.
- Law passed: 1996
- Number of charters: 89
- Estimated charter enrollment: 48,900 (up 10 percent from 2015- 16)
- New Jersey does not cap the growth of charter schools
- Virtual charter schools 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 45 percent less in per pupil funding than traditional public schools
- New Jersey earns 3 of 15 possible points for “authorizing.” The commissioner of education (who represents the state department of education) is the sole authorizer. The state’s decisions are not subject to appeal, so applicants have no recourse for unfavorable decisions. New Jersey would benefit from multiple, independent authorizers.
- New Jersey earns 12 out of 15 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 recent years, not adding many charter school seats.
- New Jersey earns 9 out of 20 points for “operations.” Instead of granting charters blanket waivers from regulations, charter school operators must request freedom from specific regulations in their charter applications. Without blanket waivers, charters are vulnerable to state politics, unaware of what waivers might be granted and/or tentative to request autonomies that might result in the denial of a charter application. Moreover, teacher certifications cannot be waived in New Jersey.
- New Jersey earns 6 of 15 for “funding equity.” New Jersey law requires districts to send per- pupil tuition to charters for students residing in the catchment area that choose charters.
The law requires districts to pay for either 90 percent of the per-pupil program budget or 90 percent of the “thorough and efficient funding” amount, which is defined by state law. The money that charter schools receive is often much less than districts because they do not receive “adjustment aid” from the state. Also, districts can charge charters up to ten percent of per- pupil funding to cover administrative fees. New Jersey’s law does not provide any facilities funding.
Teacher Quality Score: 85%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers B
Expanding the Pool of Teachers B
Identifying Effective Teachers B
Retaining Effective Teachers C-
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C-
Overall State Grade B