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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The New Jersey School Board's Closing the Achievement Gap Task Force

 Trenton, N.J. - New Jersey State Board of Education President Arcelio
Aponte today announced that the board's Closing the Achievement Gap Task
Force has held initial meetings and soon will hold regional public
hearings to gather input on how to best address the state's academic
achievement gap.

The 10-member task force, which stems from the State Board's annual
retreat in June, was created to examine why many poor and minority
students in New Jersey do not score as well on state standardized tests
as their more-affluent and white counterparts.

"It is the State Board of Education's mission to help provide every
child in New Jersey with an excellent education regardless of their
race, ethnicity, socioeconomic group or sex," President Aponte said. "I
am confident that the State Board's Closing the Achievement Gap Task
Force will produce proven and practical methods that school districts
across the state can use to help all students achieve at high levels."

In 2010, black students in the fourth grade statewide scored
approximately 30 percentage points lower on NJASK in language arts and
mathematics than white students. The gap was slightly larger between
economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students
on the grade four language arts NJASK, while the gap in math was
approximately 25 percentage points.

The task force's charge is to provide the State Board and policymakers
with recommendations for a statewide strategy to close the academic
achievement gap by addressing proven correlatives of poor academic
achievement. It will examine the themes of access; culture/climate;
expectations; and strategies.

"Closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all students, regardless
of zip code, graduate from high school ready for college and career is a
top priority of the Department," said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.
"I commend the State Board for taking this challenge head on, and look
forward to the results of this work."

The task force members include:
* James Boatwright - Former Director of Academic Support, The
   College of New Jersey;
James Boatwright pictured center in the suit and tie.
* Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago - Rutgers Board of Governors
   Distinguished Service Professor; Director of the Center for Strategic
   Urban Community Leadership; and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy
   University Charter School;
Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago

For your information:,,  Outstanding Woman Magazine, LEAP Academy Ground Breaking
Richard E. Constable, III is Governor Christie's Nominee for Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs,  On the Job Training Initiative

* Robert L. Copeland - Superintendent, Piscataway School District;
Robert L. Copeland

* Silvia Correa-Abbato - Assistant Superintendent, Union City
   School District;
Silvia Correa-Abbato

* Dr. Stephen Jose Hanson - Professor, Psychology Department,
   Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey;
Dr. Stephen Jose Hanson
Dr. Hanson is also Director of Rutgers Brain Imaging Center

* Carlos R. Moreno - Director of School Reform & Innovation - New
   Jersey, Big Picture Learning;
Carlos R. Moreno

* Dr. Michael Nettles - Senior Vice President and Edmund W. Gordon
   Chair of Policy Evaluation and Research Center, Educational Testing
* Dr. Dorothy Strickland - Member, N.J. State Board of Education
   and Professor Emerita, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Dr. Dorothy Strickland

Support for the task force is being provided by ETS, the Department of
Education and the Office of the Acting Secretary of Higher
Education/Commission on Higher Education.

The task force expects to hold multiple public hearings around the state
in the near future.