NEWARK -- The city's public schools saw an overall increase in the percent of graduating high schoolers -- continuing a steady rise since 2011, according to numbers released by the state Department of Education Thursday.
In Newark, 73.5 percent of traditional public school students graduated in four years, compared to 69.6 percent in 2015. Statewide, 90.1 percent of students graduated within four years, a slight bump up from the 89.7 percent graduation rate in 2015.
Among the highlights:
- Barringer Arts High School's graduation rate soared from 35.7 percent to 60 percent.
- Central High School jumped from a 71.6 percent to 80.9 percent graduation rate in 2016.
- Bard Early College High School improved its graduation rate from 86.8 to 95.6 percent
- Science Park High School (97.4 percent), Technology High (96.9 percent), and University High (96.1 percent) were among the top performers in the district.
- Some of Newark's charter high schools, too, saw significant increases, like North Star Academy College Preparatory High School which boosted its graduation rate from 86.7 for the Class of 2015 to 95.3 in 2016.
"It illustrates how much potential and possibility exists in Newark when kids have access to schools that are filled with teachers who are committed to helping them succeed," said Mike Mann, who heads North Star Academy High. "Already, our students graduate from college at five times the rate of low-income students across the country, and we're eager to keep pushing that number higher."
The Class of 2016 was the first to graduate under new requirements for standardized testing. Students were asked to prove their proficiency in English and math on the new PARCC exams or through a variety of other tests, including the SAT and ACT.
"This progress, along with substantial increases in reading and math scores in recent years, makes it very clear that the arrow is pointed up here in Newark, and that students have a much better chance at success after they leave our schools then they did just a few years ago," said Christopher Cerf, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools.
Not all schools saw boosts. Marion P. Thomas Charter School had a 75 percent graduation rate compared to 88.6 percent the prior year. At Barringer Academy of S.T.E.A.M., 67.5 percent of students graduated, versus 81 percent in 2015. Neither school responded to a request for comment.
"While we still have a ways to go, you cannot underestimate the difference a high school diploma makes in a young person's life," said Brad Haggerty, Chief Academic Officer for Newark schools.
"When you examine these numbers, the important thing to understand is that this means that over the last few years hundreds more individuals here in Newark were eligible to continue their education in college, or were able to enter the workforce with a credential that nearly all employers view as essential," he said.
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Karen Yi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook.
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