"We are entering a new age of school accountability in New Jersey, one that frees high-performing schools from state interference and defines a stronger investment from the state to turn around pockets of persistent academic failure," state Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
The schools designated as needing improvement will not be up for additional state funds, according to education spokesman Justin Barra. But they will work with seven new Regional Achievement Centers. The centers' staff members, who are still being hired, are to start working with schools on turnaround efforts by September.
State officials said most of New Jersey's approximately 2,500 public schools were not in any of the three categories.
The state's worst performers - which had test proficiency rates of 31.6 percent or lower or are in the federal School Improvement Grant program - have been designed Priority Schools. Those that fail to improve within three years may be closed, according to the state.
Of the New Jersey's 75 Priority Schools, 23 are in the Camden district, according to the state list. Camden school officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Focus Schools, the second category, have graduation rates of lower than 75 percent or have achievement gaps within the school communities. There are 183 Focus Schools statewide, eight of which are in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties.
The local schools are Kingsway Regional Middle School, Bunk Hill Middle, and Chestnut Ridge Middle in Gloucester's Washington Township, Willingboro High School, the Beverly City School, Winslow Township Middle School, and Glassboro Intermediate.
The third group, Reward Schools, showed outstanding student achievement or growth over the last three years. They are in line for special recognition and will get to share some of the secrets of their success. If a Reward School received federal Title I funding, it could receive additional money from the state.
The state identified 112 Reward Schools, including two in South Jersey. They are Cherry Hill High School East and Haddonfield Memorial High School. Neither is a Title I school.
Contact staff writer Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841, email@example.com, or on Twitter @ritagiordano.