By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger
New Jersey made progress in the rollout of its new teacher evaluation system but it also encountered “significant delays” in developing a sophisticated computer system that will allow teachers to create and share lesson plans, tests and other materials, according to a new report.
The U.S. Department of Education today released progress reports on New Jersey and the six other states that shared $200 million in Race to The Top federal grants. Awarded in 2011, the grants support statewide reforms and initiatives that promote science, technology, engineering and math, or the STEM subjects.
New Jersey did not see any gains in standardized test scores or make significant strides in closing its achievement gap, but it did increase its high school graduation rate, the report notes. The state also sought and received an extension on some its other programs, including changes to curriculum for special needs students and English Language Learners.
Race to the Top, President Obama’s signature educational initiative, has awarded $5 billion to 24 four states in three rounds of competitive grants since 2010. The program has also awarded $1 billion to 20 states in Early Learning grants. New Jersey was awarded $44 million for its early learning programs in December.
The state's education officials welcomed the overall positive evaluation.
"We’re making great strides toward improving education, and we’ve worked to overcome any obstacles that we faced," spokesman Michael Yaple said. "And many parents would find the most important takeaway is the acknowledgment that student achievement in New Jersey has been improving. That’s what matters most."
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