Education--Overview of K-12 System
--Overview of Current System
There are over 1.3 million students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade public schools in New Jersey. In 2018, New Jersey's high school statewide graduation rate was 90.9%, an all-time high which had steadily advanced since the 2011 rate of 83%. In the 2015-2016 school year, there were 2,516 public schools, 88 charter schools and 590 New Jersey school districts. The state's public school system ranks as the tenth largest among the 50 states, according to PublicSchoolReview.com.
In its annual spending report released in April 2016 for the 2014-15 school year, the Department of Education stated that the average total spending per pupil in the state (which includes district pension payments made by the state and other ancillary costs that vary by district) was $19,652, 2.2% higher than the prior year's average of $19,228. Excluding pension costs, budgeted spending per pupil increased by 1.3%, from $14,546 in the 2013-14 school year to $14,736 in 2014-15.
In the 2015-16 school year, median classroom teacher salaries ranged from a high of $95,418 in the Northern Valley Regional district, a regional high school district in Bergen County, to a low of $40,922 in East Newark Borough, a small Essex County district providing only K-8 classes. Median administrator salaries for the 2013-2014 school year were $167, 500 for school district superintendents; $148,306 for administrators and supervisors; $116,725 for principals; and $64,210 for teachers. For the 2014-2015 year, the state government projected that it would provide $7.95 billion in state aid to local school districts (excluding debt service). In addition to state aid, New Jersey schools also annually receive over $800 million in federal funds, with much of it subsidizing costs of free or reduced-cost school lunch programs and education costs of students in military families.
--New Jersey Department of Education
The New Jersey Department of Education is headed by a commissioner appointed by the governor subject to confirmation by the state Senate. The commissioner works with the State Board of Education, a thirteen-member citizen board appointed by the governor which approves educational policies proposed by the commissioner, confirms his or her appointees, and hears appeals of the commissioner’s decisions on disputes arising from school law. Its members are appointed to six-year terms and serve without compensation.
The Department is responsible for ensuring that local schools comply with state and federal laws and regulations. It also oversees pupil transportation services and directs education programs for adults and for persons who are handicapped, disadvantaged or foreign-born. For the fiscal 2015-2016 year which ends on June 30, 2016, the Department's budget is $10.9 billion, with slightly over $9 billion of that amount allocated for state aid to local school districts.
* New Jersey Department of Education
* Data and Reports, New Jersey Department of Education
-- Comparative student and school performance
The Department of Education publishes a diverse range of data and reports on the state's schools and student performance. In October 2015, the state released the initial results of student testing on the new exams administered as part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) program. The results showed that less than half of the students taking the exam met the benchmarks for their grade levels in math and English. Overall, however, the state appeared to be in line with the testing results of other states for readiness for the next grade or college. In fulfillment of a campaign pledge, after taking office in January 2018 Governor Murphy announced that the state would be phasing out the PARCC testing program to shift to other performance measures.
Perhaps the publication of most interest to parents and taxpayers is the New Jersey School Report Card, which provides data to compare individual schools in school finance, school staff, student behavior, and student achievement.
In addition to comparative data published by the state, private sector publishers also provide rankings of schools based on their own criteria. The include US News and World Report; Niche.com; PublicSchoolReview.com and New Jersey Monthly.
New Jersey also has some of the nation's most prominent private schools. In its most recent ranking published in 2014, Niche.com ranked the five top private high schools in the state as The Lawrenceville School in Lawrence Township; The Princeton Day School in Princeton; The Pingry School in Martinsville; Gill St. Bernard's School in Far Hills; and Newark Academy in Livingston.
* PARCC Assessments, New Jersey Department of Education
* New Jersey School Performance, New Jersey Department of Education
* New Jersey School Directory, New Jersey Department of Education
* New Jersey Public Schools, PublicSchoolReview.com
* Taxpayer's Guide to Education Spending, New Jersey Department of Education/NJ Spotlight
* School Performance Reports 101: What You Need to Know to Decode the Data, NJ Spotlight
* Best High Schools in New Jersey 2015, US News and World Report
* Best High Schools in New Jersey 2015, Niche.com
* Best New Jersey High Schools 2014, New Jersey Monthly
* Best Private High Schools in New Jersey, Niche.com