On that list is Public School No. 3, located on Polk Street, which houses pre-K through 8th grades. School 3 was recognized last week by the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence as one of 10 "benchmark schools" in New Jersey. The recognition is based on student achievement on the state's GEPA (Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment) tests.
The other nine schools were: Abington Avenue Elementary School in Newark, Alice Costello Elementary School in Brooklawn, Ann Street Elementary School in Newark, Cranbury Elementary school in Cranbury, Demarest Middle School in Demarest, Horace Mann Elementary School in North Bergen, Iselin Middle School in Woodbridge, John Witherspoon Middle School in Princeton, and Weymouth Township Elementary School in Weymouth Township.
The Business Coalition for Educational Excellence, which is part of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce located in Trenton is, according to a press release, "an association of New Jersey business leaders, educators and policymakers committed to ensuring that all children achieve at high levels, become productive citizens and are well prepared to function successfully in the workplace."
The BCEE, according to officials, has four primary areas of interest when evaluating a school for recognition: standards and assessments, teacher quality, accountability and technology. And School Number Three, along with the nine other middle schools on the list, made the grade - and then some.
The award was given to the schools at a luncheon in Trenton almost two weeks ago. New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner William Librera was on hand to congratulate the schools and also to announce the launching of a new web site connected with the BCEE called Just for the Kids-New Jersey (www.just4kids.org). The Web site, according to Librera, will provide schools, teachers, parents, and the public with a clear comparison of school performance. This open communication amongst schools will hopefully engender an open dialogue among different school districts and help in the sharing of ideas.
This isn't the first time that School No. 3 has been recognized. Back in March, the school was recognized as a "Title 1 Distinguished School." "Title 1" refers to any school that is part of a district that is considered "economically and educationally disadvantaged."
At the time, a beaming West New York Superintendent of Schools Anthony Yankovich said, "It's a terrific award for us because is indicates that the students are really achieving academically despite their economic standing. In West New York, we do not lower the bar. We expect everyone to achieve."
While Yankovich couldn't be reached for comment for this latest recognition, School No. 3 Principal Clara Herrera couldn't be any happier. Said Herrera last week, "This one actually came as a surprise to us. [The Title 1 recognition in March required inspectors to come to the school, so the element of surprise was taken away]. We're quite happy about this. It just confirms what we already knew - we have a very dedicated staff and we have a very close relationship with the parents of our students. That's such an important component. That's why this works so well."
Herrera mentioned that at a recent parent-teacher night in September, 98 percent of the parents of students at the school attended. This, said Herrera, is practically unheard of in a district such as West New York. Added Herrera, "Ours is a model that is all throughout the district."