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ABBOTT MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL REFORMS TOUTED AS STATEWIDE MODEL

A reform program for Abbott middle and high schools can be a model of secondary schools statewide, according to a report in the Star Ledger. The program, to be launched this fall, calls for smaller learning communities, and more individualized and rigorous academic programs for students. The framework for the program – called the "Abbott Secondary Education Standards" or "ASES" – is contained in draft regulations to be adopted this month.

A work group of researchers, advocates and experts developed the ASES program. In the June 2003 Abbott X order, the NJ Supreme Court directed NJDOE to convene the work group to develop a "whole school reform" program for Abbott middle and high schools.

The goals of ASES are to increase student achievement in all content areas; to increase cohort graduation rates and student attendance rates; to reduce instructional days lost due to suspensions and expulsions; and to strengthen student commitment towards learning. The reforms include:

  • Creating smaller organizational structures – small learning communities or small schools – within existing facilities or new facilities, and keeping students together in the smaller structures over multiple years in schools
  • Providing all students and their families with personalized advocacy and support from school staff
  • Providing teachers with planning time, coaching and other supports to ensure student success
  • Overhauling curriculum and courses in all content areas to ensure academic rigor
  • Assessing school and district performance against common indicators

NJDOE will utilize its Abbott management funds to hire staff and provide resources to help districts implement ASES this year. ELC and members of the work group plan to continue to advocate for the program as it moves forward.

Draft Regulations for Abbott Secondary Education Standards