Newark Enrolls process accommodates approximately 12,000 applications, while continuing to make improvements for families by further emphasizing neighborhood preference and launching family enrollment portal
[Newark, NJ – April 25, 2017] Newark Public Schools (NPS) sent out letters this week to approximately 12,000 families, notifying students who submitted an application in the 2017 – 2018 citywide enrollment process of their school placement. Since the application window closed in February, the district has been working hard to accommodate every student with his or her best available, highest-ranked school choice, especially for those students who prefer to attend a school in their neighborhood, attend a school with a sibling, or have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
“We are grateful to the thousands of families who participate in Newark Enrolls each year for taking an active role in their children’s education,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “We worked very hard this year to make changes to continue to improve how Newark Enrolls works for families, by matching students with the school that best meets their needs and making the process more convenient. The data also shows that parents are choosing wisely- that their enthusiasm and dedication to find the right school for their children is leading to improved student outcomes across Newark’s schools.”
NPS made adjustments to enrollment policies after collecting feedback through community meetings and surveys over the last year. Newark Enrolls produced the following results this year:
- Most students chose to stay in their current school, including Pre-K students
- 93% of all non-transition grade students (whose school continues into the next higher grade) chose to remain at their current school. 7% chose to apply for a new school.
- The vast majority of transition-grade students (incoming Kindergarteners, rising 9th graders) will attend one of their top choices
- 95% of incoming Kindergarten students who applied to a new school were admitted to one of their top three choices, up from 92% last year.
- The 5% of students who were not matched to a top choice applied to schools with many more applicants than seats available. For example:
- 123 students selected First Avenue as their top choice, but the school had space for only 70 new Kindergarten students.
- 90 Newark students selected Philip’s Academy as their top choice, but only 42 Kindergarten seats were available.
- 70% of rising 9th grade students gained access to one of their top three choices.
- The 30% of rising 9th grade students, who were not matched to a top choice, often selected schools with many more applicants than seats available. For example:
- 1,918 rising 9th graders chose a magnet school as their first choice, but these schools only had space for about 1,200 students. (e.g. Science Park, Technology HS)
- More than one-third of all 9th graders selected only magnet schools in their top 3 choices.
- Every transition grade student (Kindergarten and 9th grade) in the South Ward who chose a Community School has been admitted
- The South Ward Community schools include: Malcolm X Shabazz High School, B.R.I.C.K. Avon Academy, Belmont Runyon Elementary School, Louise A Spencer Elementary School, and B.R.I.C.K. Peshine Avenue School.
- Students who preferred a neighborhood district school were overwhelmingly admitted to their neighborhood school. However, many Kindergarten families selected a district school outside of their neighborhood or a charter school as their first choice.
- 98% of incoming Kindergarten families who wanted to attend a district school in their neighborhood were matched to a neighborhood school.
- In the small number of schools that did not have enough seats to accommodate all Kindergarten applicants from the neighborhood, there were more applicants from the neighborhood than seats available. For example:
- 166 East Ward students selected Ann Street as their first choice, but there were only 122 open Kindergarten seats. All new Kindergarteners who matched there live in the East Ward, with the exception of two students whose siblings already attend Ann Street.
- A majority of Kindergarten families (51%) selected a district school as their first choice – 37% chose a neighborhood district school first, while 14% chose a non-neighborhood district school first. 49% of Kindergarten families chose a charter school first.
- Families who wanted their children to attend school with siblings were accommodated at very high rates
- 94% of students who applied to a school where their sibling currently attends were admitted to that school.
- The 6% of students who were not matched to the school where they currently have a sibling most often applied to Pre-K programs or charter schools that did not have enough space to take all siblings. For example:
- 5 siblings of current students at Mount Vernon applied to their Pre-K program for four-year olds, but because only 2 seats were available, 3 siblings could not be accommodated. No students without siblings were admitted to this Pre-K program. Families in this situation are contacted directly by the NPS Pre-K office.
- In addition, 71% of families with multiple children who applied to attend a new school together were matched together.
- Applicants with specific special education or bilingual needs are being matched to school choices most suited to provide them with appropriate services
- Matches for incoming NPS students who require specialized programs have been reviewed closely by district staff to assure that appropriate services are available.
“Over the last year, the district has used feedback from community members to continue to make improvements to the enrollment process,” said Executive Director of Enrollment, Gabrielle Ramos-Solomon. “As a result, we launched a new website and provided more resources than ever before to help families. We also placed a stronger emphasis on accommodating students who want to attend a school in their neighborhood, and we’ve continued to emphasize keeping siblings together and placing students with IEPs in schools that meet their needs. We look forward to working closely with families in the coming months to make sure that all of our students are set up for a successful 2017-2018 school year.”
In order to continue to promote transparency and respond to community feedback, NPS announced this week it will be implementing several community driven initiatives to continue to improve the way families experience the enrollment process:
- Launching a Family Enrollment Portal on May 8, providing parents with the ability to directly address many of their enrollment needs online without having to travel to the Family Support Center. Building on the district’s successful online application website, this new portal will allow families who arrive in Newark after the application period has ended to enroll in a school of their choosing online. It will also allow families who need to change schools to do so online. In previous years, all families who needed support after the application window closed had to go in-person to the Family Support Center.
- Forming a Transparency Committee of 12 community members who will be tasked with reviewing and making recommendations in key areas of the enrollment system and its related policies. Members will include parents, community stakeholders, school advisory board members and other elected officials. The committee will review the following issues: neighborhood preference, sibling preference, transfer policy, waitlist policy, magnet school enrollment policy, and new student arrival policy.
“The launch of the Family Enrollment Portal and the Transparency Committee, demonstrates our commitment to continue to improve the enrollment process for Newark families,” said Superintendent Cerf. “The Family Enrollment Portal will ease the burden on parents, while the community-driven Transparency Committee will work to identify additional ways to improve the enrollment process. These important initiatives will further support our efforts to ensure Newark Enrolls is successfully meeting the needs of our students and families.”
The match letters students will receive this week provide families with next steps to register and confirm student placement in their school match. Families may also learn of their placement by accessing their Newark Enrolls account online at www.newarkenrolls.org, visiting or call their child’s current school regarding their match letter, or calling the NPS Contact Center at 973-733-7333. To complete the enrollment process, parents or guardians must confirm school placements by registering their child at their assigned school before Friday, June 2nd.
Families interested in learning more about school enrollment and placement should visit www.newarkenrolls.org or contact a member of their school’s enrollment team or the Contact Center at 973-733-7333.