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Contact: Nancy Parello, (973) 643-3876 or (908) 399-6031


New Report Offers Lessons for Education Reform in Newark

As the Newark community seeks solutions to improving its public education system, a new report shows student achievement varies greatly from school to school, no matter if it is a district or charter school.

In some Newark schools – both charter and district – students exceeded state averages in passing standardized tests. In other district and charter schools, fewer than 20 percent of children passed achievement tests.

“These statistics send a clear message,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which publishes the Kids Count reports. “Student achievement varies from school to school, regardless of whether the school is a charter or district school. We must identify what is working in the successful schools—charters and districts alike—and replicate those elements in all Newark schools.”

Newark Kids Count 2010, a statistical profile of children living in New Jersey’s largest city, presents data on a range of child well-being measures, including poverty, health, education and child protection. The report was released today at Rutgers University to a group of community and civic leaders, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and others.

This year, the report includes a special section on charter schools, along with expanded education data. “We hope this brings data to the discussion over how to invest the $100 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg so that all Newark children receive a quality education,” Zalkind said.

Booker praised the report and urged community leaders to use the information in conversations over how to improve education and the overall well-being of the city's children.

"This is a phenomenal book, but it's nothing if it just remains on the shelf,"  Bookdre said, adding that data-driven decisions will benefit Newark's children.

The mayor also agreed with the report's conclusion that some of Newark's charter and district schools achieve above state averages, while others have a large percentage of children who are failing state tests.

"My loyalty is to models that work," Booker said.

A panel of four Rutgers students who graduated from schools in Newark also offered their solutions for fixing the city's schools.

Sienna Scott, a junior studying English and urban education, Deborah Flamengo, a sophomore majoring in psychology, Kendall St. Ange, a sophomore with a double major in environmental science and geology, and Tierra Brown, a junior majoring in criminal justice, offered the following advice:

»  Expand programs that support youth in their academic pursuits

»  Ensure that educators don't just "teach to the test"

»  Provide additional help to children who lack strong parent or family supports

»  Raise expectations for urban students

Newark Kids Count 2010 also highlighted the need to look at the whole child when designing education reforms, Zalkind said, adding that poverty is an especially persistent and damaging problem.

“In 2000, we wrote that more than one in three Newark children lives in poverty,” Zalkind said. “We say it again in this report, 10 years later. This poverty infects nearly every aspect of child well-being, especially academic success.”

“The information in this report provides a portrait that can help us draw a map to achieve an informed approach to reform—one that will finally give real opportunity to children across the city,” Zalkind said.

To view the full report, go to

Advocates for Children of New Jersey is the leading statewide child research and action organization, working to bring about change that gives every child the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated.


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