The Newark Public Schools
NUA Director: Dr. Ahmes Askia
Newark Liaison / Director: Dr. Gayle Griffin
PROJECT: Striving Readers
The NUA has been an educational and social justice partner with Newark Public Schools since 1995. From the outset the partnership has centered around the secondary schools—first in all of the high schools (the magnets and the comprehensives—12 total) and in the last five years under the Striving Readers Grant in 19 middle grades (in both K-8 schools and middle schools).
Newark Public Schools is the largest school district in the state of New Jersey . It is an urban district of approximately 42,000 students and 2, 844 teachers. There is a 14 to 1 student teacher ratio in the district. NPS is the second largest employer in the city of Newark, only Newark Liberty International Airport employs more people. Seventy-four percent of Newark’s students are on free or reduced-price lunch. Approximately 64.4% of the students are African American; 29.4% are Latino; and 5.4% are White. Ninety-two percent of Newark’s students are in Chapter I classes. The Median Household Income is $27,539-54,226. Newark’s median household income is roughly half that of New Jersey’s. (Sources: N.J. Dept. of Education website, Census Bureau.)
Newark has a lower student-faculty ratio and higher expenditures per pupil than another other district. It has a larger minority population compared to the state, with roughly 93% of its students being in a minority category, compared to 41% for the state.
NPS’s teaching force have the following degrees:
Bachelor’s – 70%
Master’s – 25%
Ph.D. – 5%
Approximately 56% of the teaching force is White; 27% African American; 13% Latino; and 4% Asian.
The mission of NPS, ”…is to develop a productive citizen who is distinguished in all aspects of academic endeavors and willing to challenge the status quo in our society. We are committed to ensuring that our policies and practices will prepare our students for a world that is increasingly diverse and knowledge driven. We expect our schools and classroom environments to be emotionally safe and intellectually challenging. We pledge to partner with parents, groups, and organizations that add support to the mission by changing hearts and minds to value education.” This mission is complemented by its partnership with the NUA in several ways:
a focus on what is meaningful and relevant to the students and families;
including students in the instructional process encouraging self-directed learning sand self-actualization;
building capacity in schools so that teachers take ownership of the High Operational Practices which leads to High Intellectual Performances for their students.
NUA has expanded on the mission of NPS by its focus on student-centered processes and student voice, most particularly with an emphasis on:
- culturally responsive teaching
- classroom climate
- student engagement and motivation
- high intellectual performances
- self-directed learning
The following are the components of the NUA/NPS partnership:
- STEM Water Project (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math);
- 8th Grade Debate Teams (students debate issues that are self-selected from a list of 13 current topics);
- Basic forensics in preparation for debate (spring);
- Teacher Conference Day (Teachers conduct professional development for each other);
- Student team teaching (students team with each other or their teachers to teach content and strategies);
- Teacher Leader Professional Development to build capacity and to encourage sustainability of High Operational Practices.
The outcomes have been dramatic:
Increased student achievement in the middle grades (6-8);
Three student publications;
Common language across the district;
Students involved in pedagogical training to teach their schoolmates both strategies and content alongside their teachers—StudentVoiceNUA™;
Enhanced teaching practices;
Pedagogy of Confidence™ embraced;
Teacher-Leader Training to build capacity and to sustain High Operational Practices in each school site;
Enhanced student engagement.
Newark Book Publication Celebration – Party & Reception Celebrated “Go: Put Your Strengths Out There” – A New Book written by Newark Public Schools’ Students
The National Urban Alliance (NUA) for Effective Education, in collaboration with the Newark Public Schools, held a reception and book party to celebrate the recent publication of “Go: Put Your Strengths Out There”. With over 80 people in attendance, including the student authors, Newark Public School district leadership, parents, teachers and NUA staff and personnel, the evening was a showcase of community spirit in honor of the students’ literary achievements. Read more
Newark, NJ Public Schools students publish second book! In addition to last year’s Go! Put Your Strengths Out There: Newark Students Speak to Their Strengths, Newark Public Schools students have now published their second book, entitled Smarter: It’s Something You Become. Click to purchase this student-created book!
By Including Students in Teacher Workshops, a N.J. School May Open Educators’ Eyes to More Students’ Potential.
Researchers and policymakers agree that teachers’ expectations of what their students can do can become self-fulfilling prophecies for children’s academic performance.
Yet while the “soft bigotry of low expectations” has become an education catchphrase, scholars and advocates are just beginning to explore whether it is possible to prevent such expectations from taking root by making teachers and students aware of their beliefs about students.
“A lot of what we do is built on a belief system,” said Stefanie Rome, the director of professional development for the New York City-based National Urban Alliance for Effective Education .