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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000
QUALITY EDUCATION
GOAL: A quality, lifelong education equally accessible to all New Jerseyans, whereby individuals learn to be critical thinkers and engaged citizens with an understanding of and respect for the systems that support civilization (social, economic, and environmental); and which provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and personal fulfillment. 
New Jersey spent more money per pupil on elementary and secondary school education than any other state in 1999. We are at the national forefront of new educational initiatives, such as charter schools and standards-based reform. New Jersey also ranks among the best states across all categories in a recent study on higher education.* Yet there has been little change in the number of students meeting minimum high school proficiency standards and we have spent years arguing in the courts about the disparities that exist between our rich and poor districts. Such issues are critical not only to parents. An educated citizenry is the foundation of a productive economy and a fully functional society. New Jersey produces fewer higher education degrees relative to population size than many other states, although we have one of the highest percentages of college-educated adults.

What we know

Graduation rates recently decreasing

Little change in student/teacher ratio

Little change in number of 11th grade students meeting minimum high school proficiency

Access to higher education shows little recent change

 

What we don't know

We can test students on reading, writing, and arithmetic. We do not have information on characteristics that are harder to test for, including the ability to work with others, to think in innovative ways, and whether students care about being productive members of society.

We have no consistently available measures of disparities in the education received by students from rich and poor families, of different genders, and from different ethnic groups.

To sustain our quality of life, it is imperative that our children are taught to understand the basic systems that support us: the economy, the environment, government, and society. We currently have no way to measure how well our children are taught what they need to know to manage these systems.

There is currently no comprehensive means of tracking lifelong education. Given the quickening pace of economic change, it appears that continuing education long past traditional graduations will become more important.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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