Enrollment: 1.36 million
K-12 Budget: $8.5 billion
New Jersey unseated perennial standout Massachusetts this year as the top-ranked state in Quality Counts, in part because of a strong performance on financial indicators.
The Garden State also ranked second on the Chance for Success Index, with a B-plus and a score of 89.1. It ranked second in high school graduation rates and fifth in postsecondary participation, adult educational attainment, and annual income.
Advocates for poor students in the state cite a variety of policies for promoting equity, including a funding formula that targets resources to districts with high concentrations of students from low-income families.
After years of tight state budgets, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, recently signed a bill that increases state aid to districts by $191 million, helping more high-poverty school systems reach adequacy under the state’s formula.
The state also has a designated fund for school capital projects and made a decade-long commitment to prekindergarten access, advocates note.
New Jersey ranked third in preschool enrollment, topped by Connecticut and the District of Columbia.
For more about New Jersey’s Quality Counts score, click here.
Note: Enrollment is for the 2018-19 school year, and budget figure is for the 2019 fiscal year.
Research assistance from intern Héctor Alejandro Arzate.