It’s a number that tells a big story in the Newark City School District. It tells both how far we have come, and also how far we have yet to go. It’s a number worth celebrating. The Newark High School Class of 2018 graduated the highest percentage of its students in recent history — 88.2 percent.
Historically, Newark’s graduation rate has hovered in the low-70 percent range, bottoming out at 68.8 percent in 2008. Prior to the class of 2012, Newark’s graduation rate had never risen above 78 percent. And, from 2014 through 2018 — the most recent year the data is available — our graduation rate has risen every year.
This increase means that more of our students are ready for life after high school, and it’s also an important indicator that the things we focus on are working. We strive to reach that additional 12 percent who didn’t graduate.
I firmly believe that the reason many students fail to graduate isn’t because they aren’t smart enough. Many students don’t graduate because of unmet social and emotional needs.
In Newark, we work hard to meet our students’ needs. That’s why we partner with dozens of community organizations and businesses. These partnerships provide needed resources like food, school supplies, backpacks, coats and more.
It’s why we offer all students a free breakfast every day — earning Newark the School Breakfast of the Year in 2018. And why we partner with the Health Kids Network to send backpacks full of food home on the weekends.
For the past two years, each of our schools has taken a full day to focus on social and emotional awareness. These days have been successful in helping our students — and staff — develop empathy for one another. They have also encouraged students to come forward to a staff member when they have an issue.
Our schools are used year-round now, with many opportunities for students to continue learning and connecting with our awesome staff members throughout the summer. Just about any week in the summer, you can find activities in our buildings — STEM, coding, foreign language and sports camps; and our Kindergarten Readiness Academy.
After School Adventures programs at some of our elementary,
middle and high schools help keep students connected after the bell rings.
We know that our students face many challenges at home. It
Is our job to forge connections with students that help them want to come to
school and learn.
Each of our efforts is another branch on the tree of Newark
education. Our job is to provide as many branches as possible, in the hopes
that every student will find the branch that suits them.
In addition to meeting social and emotional needs, our staff
continues to expand academic opportunities to reach all students. STEM
programming reaches from Kindergarten through grade 12, with LEGO and Robotics
teams from elementary through high school. More than 50 clubs and activities
are offered at Newark High School, which also boasts 13 AP courses.
Every branch has played a role in achieving our 88.2 percent
It’s a great time to be a cat!