On Thursday I attended College Signing Day at North Star, one of Newark’s best public charter schools. But someone beat them to the punch. On May 1st, Newark Public Schools inaugurated its first annual district-wide College Decision Day. where each member of the 2017 NPS senior class who has committed to attending college this upcoming fall was celebrated by peers, teachers, administrators, and Superintendent Chris Cerf.
“Today is a remarkable moment in the educational journey of our 2017 NPS senior class who have made this significant and transformative decision to attend an institution of higher education,” said Cerf. “I am proud of each of our scholars for the hard work, and dedication they have displayed toward their academic pursuits. I’m thrilled to join the entire school community to celebrate our seniors, as they take this major step on their academic path toward lifelong success.
Which colleges will NPS seniors attend next fall? Think Harvard University, Rutgers University, Howard University, and Essex County College, to name a few. And the list will get longer as NPS’s graduation rate rises. This year district high school students graduated at a rate of 73.5%, up four percentage points from 2015; this marks the fourth consecutive year in a row that the rate has increased. (The graduation rate in 2011 was below 60%.)
A district press release noted,
Newark’s district-wide College Decision Day is part of Better Make Room’s “College Signing Day,” a national event focused on celebrating students’ commitment to transition into higher education. Better Make Room partners with former first lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative to inspire every student in America to pursue and complete their education after high school, whether through a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
Two other notes: First, NPS is doing exactly what charter schools were originally conceived for, incubating new ideas that, if successful, would be transferred to traditional schools. Newark simply followed through on this concept. Second, Superintendent Cerf has always posited that public school choice increases achievement for all students. He’s just been proven correct.