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New Jersey to Grade Schools' Anti-Bullying Efforts

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New Jersey school districts will soon post grades of their anti-bullying efforts on their websites, allowing parents to compare districts and the state to provide assistance in targeted areas.

The grading process was designed by the state to comply with the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, which passed in 2011, according to a news release from the state's education department.

Under that process, every school completed a 20-page self-evaluation, measuring its own compliance with the requirements of the act, which include establishing programs to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying; providing staff training; introducing student curriculum and instruction; proper staffing; and developing reporting and investigation procedures. Each school then received a raw score of 0-75, and the state averaged the scores of every school in a district to arrive at a final district score, which must be posted online by March 18.

"Local school boards are encouraged to use the results of the self-assessment to improve anti-bullying efforts. The state education department will use the data to guide the design of professional development and technical assistance for local school staff," the news release said.

Nationally, there's been increasing calls in recent years to use data to measure social and emotional factors in schools. In the area of discipline, for example, proponents hope better collection and analysis of more detailed data will help expose disparities between racial groups and drive change.

I would be curious to see how parents in the Garden State respond to these anti-bullying scores. How reliable is a score based on a self-administered survey? And how connected is that score to their own children's experiences in school? Will the anti-bullying grade prove to be a valuable tool for the public? Or will it be lost in a sea of other overlapping accountability efforts?

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