NEWARK, NJ - Newark Superintendent Roger León launched a one-year strategic plan recently to set the foundation for change in the school district and set the stage for a more detailed 10-year plan that is still to come.
NPS Clarity 2020 identifies six priorities to ensure student success and would transform the district focus to look at the complete trajectory of a student offering wraparound services for families.
Launched with a community meeting at Central High School in January and followed with a series of forums and roundtables with students, teachers, principals, community leaders, and others, Clarity 2020 was created.
Superintendent León, with the assistance from Newark-based consulting firm Creed Strategies, took what was said from the meetings and combined lessons learned from 23 years of state control.
“We have needs and the needs get addressed by the creation of systems. And that system requires everyone understanding what’s wrong and how we’re actually going to fix it,” León said during the launch last Thursday.
The six priorities identified in Clarity 2020 are:
- Unified and Aligned Systems
- Rigorous and Relevant Framework for Instruction
- Strength-Based and Responsive Culture
- Continuous Learning for All
- Integrated System of Supports
- Strong Reciprocal Partnerships
Recognizing that focus on students’ needs from kindergarten through grade 12 is not enough, Clarity 2020 intends to offer services for families during child conception and birth, a focus on proficient literacy by grade three, and a mentor that sticks with students until they land careers after high school or college.
Students will be exposed to college and career opportunities early and often with industry and higher education partners at the heart of the plan. The vision of Clarity 2020 includes middle school students exploring high school options and becoming acquainted with local university campuses.
High schools are the anchor of the strategy with a focus to create pipelines to college and careers to help Newark become a self-sustained city, León explained.
Academies at the city’s comprehensive high schools will blend some elements of skills training, specialization, and general education.
Starting this fall, East Side High School's new Teacher Education Academy partners with Montclair State University and the American Federation of Teachers allowing students to earn college credit and a substitute teaching certificate. When students graduate from college and meet all requirements, the students are guaranteed a full-time opportunity to teach in Newark.
Academies will be featured at all comprehensive high schools. West Side will have a business academy with Google as its industry partner and Weequahic will partner with RWJBarnabas Health for a health academy.
At the crux of the plan, is the desire to work collaboratively to ensure that all students have the opportunity to realize who they really are Dr. Lauren Wells, founder and President of Creed Strategies said.
“There’s not a person, not an institution not a system that can do what the superintendent talked about alone,” Wells said.
Kyle Rosenkrans, executive director of the New Jersey Children's Foundation, applauded the superintendent for the issuing the strategic plan. Last week, NJCF issued a report showing improvement in Newark's schools.
“We applaud Superintendent Leon and his team for unveiling a strategic plan to continue the improvement of the Newark public school system—its first such plan after 20 years of state control," Rosenkrans said. "Despite the dramatic progress we’ve documented in our new baseline report, much work remains until we can guarantee every child in the city access to a great public school."