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Two of Jersey City's charter schools told by state education commissioner they must address problems
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Two of Jersey City's charter schools told by state education commissioner they must address problems

Friday, March 11, 2011
By KELLY HEYBOER
THE STAR-LEDGER

Two of New Jersey's longest established charter schools, including one in Jersey City, are on probation, and another Jersey City charter school has been warned to improve its student test scores or face a shutdown, state education officials said yesterday.

University Academy Charter School in Jersey City and Trenton Community Charter School were placed on 90-day probation last week and given a long list of problems discovered during a recent state review.

The deficiencies ranged from low student test scores and improperly locked classrooms to inadequate lesson plans and sloppy record keeping.

Christopher Cerf, the acting state education commissioner, warned the schools they could be closed if they don't come up with an improvement plan in the next few weeks.

University Academy has been around nearly a decade and Trenton Community has been open 16 years.

"My decision on the school's renewal, for another five years, will be rendered at the conclusion of the probationary period," Cerf said in a letter to both schools. "However, failure to achieve adequate progress may result in the non-renewal of the school's charter."

Jersey City Community Charter School, one of the state's original charters, was issued a less-severe warning letter citing students' poor test scores. It has been labeled a "school in need of improvement" by the state.

"This level of academic performance is unacceptable and will not be permitted to continue," Cerf said in a stern letter to the school.

At Jersey City Community Charter School, the warning letter from the state made the staff "feel like they had the wind knocked out of their sails," said Carletta Martin-Goldston, the head of school.

But the 594-student charter school is developing a plan to boost test scores that includes more professional development for teachers.

"We feel quite certain we will be able to pull up the test scores," Martin-Goldston said.

Natasha Carter, whose son has attended Jersey City Community since kindergarten, said she has no plans to move her third-grader because of the school's lagging test scores.

"I really do like the school. I love the teachers," said Carter, of Jersey City. "I'm really not worried. I see what's going on here every day."

Charters operate independently of their districts as an alternative option for public school students.

Posted on: 2011/3/11 9:38
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