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EDUCATOR DEVELOPMENT, EFFECTIVENESS & RETENTION
- Over 90% of teachers who were rated “effective” or “highly effective” last year remained in Newark classrooms this year.
- The teachers’ contract allows us to reward teachers who are rated “highly effective” with bonuses, ranging from $5,000 to $12,500 a year.
- NPS works with outside peer teacher observers to help provide more accurate and useful evaluations of teachers.
- Approximately 2,700 teachers serve over 35,000 NPS students, an average ratio of 1 classroom teacher for every 13.3 students. This is less than the class size limits noted in the NJ Administrative Code, which ranges from 21 (grades K-3) to 24 (grades 6-12).
- Each year, NPS faces a significant challenge recruiting enough highly qualified, certified science, math and bilingual teachers to serve our student population.
- The district provides monthly professional development to school staff, through its Leadership Institute programs for principals, vice principals, and teacher teams.
SCHOOL PLANNING & CHOICE
- NPS currently has over 35,000 students enrolled in 65 schools. Additionally, over 14,000 Newark students are enrolled in 20 public charter schools.
- Last year, over 11,000 applications to schools were submitted, grades K-12.
- Over 60% of students got into their 1st choice school. 86% got into one of their top 3 choices.
- Just 3% of Kindergarteners and 4% of 9th graders were not matched to any of their choices. In these cases, students were provided placement to their closest school that still had seats available.
- This year, NPS has scheduled over 30 school-hosted events from December through February. There is also a city-wide school fair scheduled for January 30th at Central High School.
- 30,000 printed school guidebooks will be distributed across schools, community organizations, and at schools.
- Between August and January, the Family Support Center had nearly 10,000 visits by families. Of these visits, 48% (nearly half) were for new enrollments and 28% resulted in transfers within public schools in Newark.
DATA USE, MEASUREMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY
- Until 2012-13, NPS provided School Snapshots for Families, which included attendance, reading / math test scores, and graduation rates. These have not been updated, and also were not widely used except by school and district leaders.
- The new PARCC tests present an opportunity for the district to share more data with schools, parents, and the community. NPS has shared district-level PARCC results and school-by school performance. Schools will hold parent meetings to share information on results and reports on their students’ performance.
- NPS created a new enrollment guidebook this year to provide information about district and public charter school options. The guide provides information on each school including: contact information, nearest bus route, sports and clubs, number of openings available, and how easy or hard it is to get into the school.
- Currently, most of the data the district shares publicly is through the Superintendent Report presented in monthly School Board meetings. These reports are often dense and may not address parents’ most immediate concerns.
- The district is launching a transparency committee (which will include community leaders, Board members, parents, and administrators) to review, monitor and audit policies that drive NPS’ work.
CURRICULUM & ACADEMIC PROGRAMS
- Student proficiency rates on the new, tougher PARCC test are low.
- English: 22% of NPS students met the standard for proficiency
- Math: 17.5% of NPS students met the standard
- Graduation rates are up from 56% in 2011 to 69% in 2014.
- The High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) pass rate is also up: from 31% in 2011 to 43.3% in 2014.
- 40% of Newark students are enrolled in a school that “beats the odds,” according to a national study conducted by the Center for Reinventing Public Education. This is the highest rate in the U.S. and five times the national average.
- Over the past two years, the district has overhauled its ELA and math curriculum to align with Common Core standards.
- NPS purchased 11,000 Chromebooks to support digital learning.
- Approximately 17% of NPS students have Individualized Education Plans. The district offers nine different types of self-contained Special Education programs (e.g.: autism, behavioral disorder, learning disabled, etc.) across 50 schools
- Approximately 10% of NPS students are English Language Learners (ELLs). The district has bilingual programs in 25 schools in Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
- About half of NPS schools have extended school day programming.
- In partnership, NPS and City Hall launched a $12 million Community Schools Initiative that will provide more student and family supports to selected South Ward schools next year, including Malcolm X Shabazz HS.
- Student suspensions are down 37% from last year, partly due to “restorative justice” practices being enacted in schools.
- Reported incidences of violence, vandalism, illegal substances, and weapons have decreased over the past three years, although many students still report feeling unsafe at school.
- Chronic absenteeism (students missing more than 10% of days enrolled – typically 18+ days) is far too high. 22% of students in K-8 schools and 49% of students in high schools were identified as chronically absent in the 2014-2015 school year.
OPERATIONS, FINANCE & GOVERNANCE
- Newark Public Schools is one of three districts in New Jersey under state intervention, and has been since 1995.
- Turnover in district leadership over the past several years has impacted continuity of the district’s strategic direction.
- No strategic plan is currently in effect. The prior strategic plan (Great Expectations completed during the Janey administration) spanned 2009-2013.
- NPS overcame a $75 million budget gap this past year.
- NPS will face a $70+ million dollar gap again this upcoming year unless New Jersey makes changes to its aid amounts and/or funding formula.
- NPS spends over $35 million a year on pupil transportation, most of which goes to provide door-to-door transportation for students with IEPs.
- NPS spends over $22 million a year on school food and committed this year to provide free lunch to all students, regardless of income level.
- NPS spends over $14 million a year on security and student safety. Schools have from 1 to 8 security guards on duty at all times, largely based on school size.
- The Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE), which has 5 central office staff, oversees the district’s work to engage families and communities about our schools.
- FACE provides professional development to over 50 community engagement specialists, typically 1 per school.
- FACE holds biweekly parent workshops that focus on academic content and bridging the connection between home and school.
- Other offices in the district also interact with families (Parent Contact Center, Family Support Center, the Superintendent’s Office, etc.). However, families report that coordination among these offices is unclear and can be inconsistent.
- Families report that too much of the communications with families is untimely, unclear, and one-way.
- NPS has a presence on Twitter and Facebook, but families report that the district is not adequately or consistently using these and other forms of digital communications.