NEWARK, NJ - Students from comprehensive Newark public high schools earned college degrees at a much lower rate than charter, parochial, vocational and public magnet schools, a new study finds.

About 16 percent of comprehensive school graduates from 2011 went on to earn a bachelor's degree within six years, compared to about 43 percent of Newark Public magnet school graduates, according to the study from the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) and Rutgers University - Newark’s School of Public Affairs Administration.

The study is unique since it’s one of the first to have participation from all sectors of Newark's schools, including public comprehensive schools like West Side High School, all four of Essex County Vocational Technical Schools, magnet schools like Bard Early College, KIPP New Jersey charter schools and St. Benedict's Preparatory, a private all-boys Catholic school.

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Newly appointed Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León has decided to continue a program known as Newark Enrolls, which allows families to apply for both traditional public and charter schools in one system. 

“While these numbers represent improvement over previous years, they remain far from where we should be,” Leon said in a statement. “Our goal in Newark and my commitment is to propel students in an upward trajectory. Our students can soar academically and can compete nationally.”

The study tracked about 13,500 -- or approximately 85 percent -- of all Newark students who graduated from high schools between 2011 and 2016. Researchers examined enrollment in two-year and four-year colleges, how many students returned to college after first enrolling and completion rates.

More than half of 2011-2016 Newark high school graduates across all types of schools immediately enrolled in college. Students who immediately enroll in college had a greater chance of eventually earning a degree, the study found.

However, there were large disparities between the outcomes for students at public comprehensive schools and all other types of schools.

White students were more likely to earn a degree than blacks or Hispanics. Female students went on to earn a degree more than male students, too.

The four-year college graduation rate among all high school graduates was also low, and few students opted to earn an associate degree. 

Children living in poverty throughout the city rose between 2010 and 2016, from 35 percent to 41 percent. That puts Newark in the lowest socioeconomic category for school districts, a designation held by 38 other districts in the nation, the study said. 

Despite Newark's recent economic boom - with billions of dollars of investment and more than 100,00 people commuting here for work - about a third of the jobs in the city currently require a bachelor's degree, the study said.

Newark lags behind the state when it comes to how many residents hold an associate degree or higher: About 19 percent of Newarkers hold some type of degree, compared to 45 percent on a state level, the study said.

One co-author of the study hopes the report sparks conversation rather than competition amongst Newark’s schools.

“The cross-sector collaboration was one of the highlights of the project and enabled us to examine college-going for a wide range of Newark high school graduates,” said Kristi Donaldson, the report’s co-author. “One of our goals was really to put schools in conversation – not competition – with one another to learn and share best practices throughout the community.”

Here are some of the data by sector in the study. The full report may be found here:

A note about the data: College data used in this study was from June 2011 through June 2017. Students from the class of 2011 had six years to enroll in college and earn a degree, while the class of 2012 had five years and so on. Six-year graduation rates only reflect 2011 graduates.

Charter schools that declined to participate in the study were North Star, Marion P. Thomas and People's Prep. St. Vincent Academy, Seton Hall Prep and Christ the King, all parochial schools, also declined. 

KIPP NJ SCHOOLS

KIPP NJ Schools is a non-profit charter school system.  It was founded in 2012 in Newark's South Ward and graduated its first high school class in 2010.

1. The highest rates of immediate enrollment were in at KIPP New Jersey Schools. About 84 percent of KIPP NJ high school graduates immediately enrolled in either two or four-year colleges after.

2. However, college enrollment increased slightly within two years of graduating from this high school. About 88 percent of these high school graduates enrolled in either a two or four-year college within two years.

3. About 91 percent of KIPP high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year school stayed for a second term. About 76 percent continued on to a second year at a four-year school.

4. About 80 percent of KIPP high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year school stayed for a second term. About 51 percent continued on to a second year at a second-year school.

5. For students who immediately enrolled in college, about 10 percent earned a bachelor's degree in four years. After six years, that number increased to 33 percent for those who graduated from high school in 2011.

6. About 6 percent of high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college went on to earn an associate degree by four years.

ST. BENEDICT’S PREPARATORY SCHOOL

St. Benedict's Preparatory is an all-boys Catholic high school. It was founded in 1868 by Benedictine monks.

1. About 75 percent of public magnet school high school students immediately went to college after graduating. About 58 percent of high schoolers enrolled in a four-year school, while nearly 17 percent went to a two-year college.

2. However, college enrollment increased slightly within two years of graduating from this high school. About 78 percent of high school graduates here enrolled in either a two or four-year college within two years.

3. Ninety-seven percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year school stayed for a second term. About 90 percent continued on to a second year at a four-year school.

4. About 91 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year school stayed for a second term. About 70 percent continued on to a second year at a two-year school.

5. For students who immediately enrolled in college, about 30 percent earned a bachelor's degree in four years. That number increased to 43 percent for those who earned a degree in five years. After six years, that 40 percent for those who graduated from high school in 2011 earned their bachelor’s degree.

6. About 7 percent of high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college went on to earn an associate degree by four years.

ESSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL SCHOOLS

Essex County Vocational Technical Schools has two facilities located in Newark, but all four participated in the study since Newark students can attend each of them.

1. About 63 percent of ECVTS high school graduates immediately went to college after graduating. About 39 percent of these students enrolled in a four-year school, while about 25 percent went to a two-year college.

2. However, college enrollment increased slightly within two years of graduating from these high schools. About 71 percent of high school graduates here enrolled in either a two or four-year college within two years.

3. About 92 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year school stayed for a second term. About 73 percent continued on to the second year at a four-year school.

4. About 82 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year school stayed for a second term. About 46 percent continued on to the second year at a two-year school.

5. For students who immediately enrolled in college, about 8 percent earned a bachelor's degree in four years. About 25 percent earned their bachelor’s degree in six years.

6. About 4 percent of high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college went on to earn an associate degree by four years.

NEWARK PUBLIC SCHOOLS - MAGNET

Magnet public schools in Newark are more selective than the public comprehensive schools. Magnet schools in the study were American History, Arts, Bard Early College, Science Park, Technology and University.

1. About 75 percent of public magnet school high school students immediately went to college after graduating. About 58 percent of high schoolers enrolled in a four-year school, while nearly 17 percent went to a two-year college.

2. However, college enrollment increased slightly within two years of graduating from these high schools. About 82 percent of high school graduates here enrolled in either a two or four-year college within two years.

3. About 95 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year school stayed for a second term. About 82 percent continued on to the second year at a four-year school.

4. About 81 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year school stayed for a second term. Fifty-two percent continued on to the second year at a two-year school.

5. For students who immediately enrolled in college, about 21 percent earned a bachelor's degree in four years. About 43 percent earned their bachelor’s degree in six years.

6. About 4 percent of high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college went on to earn an associate degree by four years.

NEWARK PUBLIC SCHOOLS - COMPREHENSIVE

The Newark Public School system is the third-oldest public school system in the nation. Comprehensive high schools include Barringer, Barringer STEAM, Central, Eagle Academy, East Side, Malcolm X. Shabazz, Weequahic, West Side, Newark Early College and Newark Vocational.

1. About 40 percent of NPS comprehensive high school students immediately went to college after graduating. About 19 percent went to a four-year school, while nearly 21 percent went to a two-year college.

2. However, college enrollment increased slightly within two years of graduating from these high schools. About 52 percent of high school graduates here enrolled in either a two or four-year college within two years.

3. About 87 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year school stayed for a second term. About 64 percent continued to the second year at a four-year school.

4. About 76 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year school stayed for a second term. About 42 percent continued to the second year at a two-year school.

5. For students who immediately enrolled in college, about 5 percent earned a bachelor's degree in four years. About 16 percent earned their bachelor’s degree in six years.

6. About 6 percent of high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college went on to earn an associate degree by four years.