Another list released yesterday included the names of 265 schools given early-warning status for falling short on the Grade Eight Proficiency Test.
Although the department had released the early-warning status of these districts last week, their names had not been made public. The number is almost half of all public schools with eighth grades in New Jersey, including top-performing middle schools in Haddonfield, Moorestown and Cherry Hill.
The department announced last month that 75 percent of the state's 361 high schools were on early-warning status.
Speaking for all the schools, state Education Commissioner William Librera continued his stand that the federal law, although well-intentioned, needed tweaking so that an entire school was not considered a failure.
"These are not failing schools," he said. "The Department of Education continues to see these schools unfairly and inaccurately labeled as such. These are schools that are either in the 'needs improvement' category or are in danger of being placed in the category next year."
Forty "indicators" are used to determine adequate yearly progress as mandated by No Child Left Behind.
The elementary schools that have missed making progress two years in a row - F.X. McGraw in Camden, Benjamin Franklin in Pennsauken, and Alexander Denbo in Pemberton Township - missed three, one and eight of the 40 indicators, respectively.
Under No Child Left Behind - a law designed to make educators more accountable while pushing all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 - states decide what constitutes adequate yearly progress. New Jersey uses its standardized exams that test fourth, eighth and 11th graders in reading, writing and math.
Although some New Jersey schools missed more than half of the 40 indicators, many missed only one or two.
To date, 145 schools - about 55 percent of the schools with eighth grades that were put on the early-warning list - missed the benchmarks in two or fewer categories, according to the state.
"This speaks to some of the problems we see with the implementation of this federal law," Librera said. "We think the goals of this legislation are admirable, but the implementation of this is fraught with many problems. Much of this information, coupled with the problems in implementation, creates unfair conclusions about these schools."
The elementary schools on the list released yesterday failed to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years. Although there are no sanctions for making either the early-warning or needs-improvement list, there can be heavier consequences in future years.
In the third year, schools must offer parents the option of transferring their children to another school, either inside or outside the district.
The state measured elementary school students' performance based on the new New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge taken by fourth graders in spring 2003. Fourth graders belonging to one of nine subgroups accounted for Denbo, Franklin and McGraw making the "in need of improvement" list. The subgroups include minority, special-education, economically disadvantaged, and limited English proficient students.
Denbo, in Pemberton Township, missed eight of the 40 indicators. Although at least 95 percent of students took the test at Denbo, the overall school population - in addition to the categories of economically disadvantaged, white and special-education students - were not proficient in reading, writing and math.
At Camden's McGraw, fourth graders failed to meet three indicators in language arts. In Pennsauken, students at Franklin met all but one indicator: Language-arts scores for black students fell below the benchmark.
Some of the schools with fourth grades - like the schools with eighth grades and 11th grades announced in previous weeks - may have made one of the state lists because of a deficiency in only one category, such as special education.
School officials were not available for comment yesterday.
Contact staff writer Toni Callas at 856-779-3912 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writer Melanie Burney contributed to this article.
Schools Given Early Warnings
Based on the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment standardized test, early-warning notices from the New Jersey Department of Education were given to these schools under the No Child Left Behind Act. The number of missed indicators (out of 40) is in parentheses.
MacFarland Junior (1)
High School (4)
Hopkins Middle (4)
Middle School (1)
DeMasi Middle (1)
Middle School (3)
Middle School (2)
High School (3)
Medford Memorial (2)
Harrington Middle (5)
N. Burlington County Regional
Junior High School (1)
School No. 3 (1)
High School (2)
Bell Oaks (2)
Riletta Cream (2)
South Camden Alternative (1)
Camden's Promise Charter (6)
LEAP Academy Charter (6)
Elementary School (1)
Junior High School (6)
Glen Landing (4)
Middle School (9)
Middle School (7)
Monongahela Middle (6)
Glassboro Intermediate (7)
Williamstown Middle (5)
Bunker Hill Middle (3)
Chestnut Ridge Middle (1)
Orchard Valley Middle (2)
Middle School (5)