Eight in Camden and one each in Pennsauken and Willingboro must begin planning for restructuring in the coming school year.
Schools on the "needs improvement" list range from those traditionally seen as academic stars, such as Moorestown High School and Eastern High in Voorhees, to those that have failed to meet all the standards since progress began being measured in 2001.
State Education Commissioner William Librera said more schools had ended up on the list of those in need of improvement because of a federal requirement to raise the bar on proficiency and the percentage of students within subgroups who have to pass the standardized tests.
"What that boils down to . . . is that you can have schools that made real gains in the numbers of students who pass the test but still didn't make AYP because the bar just got higher," he said.
There was some good news for South Jersey. Twenty schools came off the early-warning and sanctions list, including Cinnaminson High School, Cherry Hill High School East, Haddon Township High School, Bookbinder and Martin Luther King Elementary Schools in Willingboro, and Parkside and Wiggins Elementary Schools in Camden.
Under No Child Left Behind, each school is measured against 40 indicators, made up largely of preliminary results on state math and language-arts tests taken each spring by third, fourth, eighth and 11th graders. Also in the mix are graduation rates and test participation.
"Overall, the state of education is very strong here in New Jersey," Librera said in announcing the results. "We know that many schools caught up in this NCLB AYP situation are not failing schools, and we think it is both unfortunate and grossly unfair that the federal government chooses to label them that way."
Many local educators are frustrated by the law's high stakes and the fact that advances are not acknowledged unless schools meet all 40 benchmarks.
Moorestown Superintendent Paul Kadri said he agreed with the spirit of the law but not its implementation. "The pressure that NCLB puts on kids is absolutely absurd," he said.
After two consecutive years of failing to make adequate yearly progress, Moorestown High landed on the sanctions list, meaning that it must offer parents the option to transfer their children to another district school. Because Moorestown has just one high school, under state rules it must offer services such as tutoring instead.
The school missed three indicators, all in the special-education subgroup. The district thought that some special-education students' scores should not count, so their individual education plans were written accordingly.
"Had we known those students' scores were going to count, their IEPs would have been rewritten, and we would have given them all test prep like any other student at risk," Kadri said.
The stakes are undoubtedly getting higher. Once a school misses meeting the standards for two consecutive years, penalties can include requiring school choice, supplemental services such as tutoring, or corrective action.
This year, schools that have not made adequate progress five consecutive years will begin a restructuring process that must be implemented in 2006-07 if they fail to make progress for another year.
Such schools received state assistance last year in helping to devise improvement plans and will continue to have it in the coming school year. Restructuring could include replacing the bulk of their staff, choosing a company to manage the school, reopening as a charter school, or accepting significant state intervention.
Among the 10 schools in the three counties are nearly all of Camden's middle schools, Howard M. Phifer Middle School in Pennsauken, and Willingboro Memorial Middle School.
In all, 25 of Camden's 32 public schools were on the early-warning and sanctions list. The district, South Jersey's largest at 18,000 students, had 21 on the list last year.
"Sure, it's disappointing, but we're lighting the fires up," said Luis Pagan, an assistant superintendent in the district. "We're refocusing. We're investing. We're doing the things that are educationally appropriate for our kids."
He said all of Camden's middle school students would receive 90 minutes of math instruction daily in an effort to boost scores.
Glassboro High was one of the 75 schools in the region placed on early warning, meaning it did not make the benchmarks for one year and faces no sanctions at this time. The school fell short on two indicators, the scores for African American and economically disadvantaged students.
That did not delight Superintendent Michael Gorman, but it did serve a purpose.
"You'd like to be on the positive side of the list," he said, "but it's something that's very good to know. I am probably one of the few that like that we get this disaggregated data, to know where we are and what we have to do to improve."
Work toward that end has already begun, including an extended school day and longer school years for targeted populations, he said.
Statewide, the most dramatic rise was in the number of elementary schools that did not make adequate yearly progress. Last year, 193 were on warning status, and this year 407 are - a more than 110 percent increase.
The number of middle schools increased from 259 to 338, and the number of high schools from 167 to 196.
Suzanne Ochse, head of the state's Office of Title I Program Planning, attributed the elementary school increase to counting, for the first time, third graders' scores as well as fourth graders'.
Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 856-779-3927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.