NEWARK, NJ - KIPP NJ’s Newark region was recognized today by the state Department of Education as one of 11 "Lighthouse Districts" in the state. 

The recogntion is awarded biennially to districts that exhibit a combination best practices and improved academic performance over the course of several years.

“Lighthouse Districts can serve as beacons of success for public education in New Jersey,” state Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont O. Repollet said. “We recognize Lighthouse Districts for tremendous academic gains, for demonstrating that all schools can excel and all students can achieve.”

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The 11 Lighthouse award winners were announced at the NJDOE’s statewide “Equity for All” conference at The College of New Jersey.

The state evaluated four years of district and school-level data to identify districts with the greatest academic improvement. Lighthouse districts are representative of New Jersey’s diverse student body, including size of the district and region of the state.

As a Lighthouse District, KIPP Newark will join a strong network of districts across New Jersey that are working toward continuous improvement for their students through data-driven, individualized approaches to teaching and learning, KIPP Newark Executive Director Joanna Belcher said.

“Over the past 17 years, we have worked tirelessly to create and reinforce a culture of joy, achievement, and excellence in our schools,” Belcher said.

“We are proud of our scholars’ hard work and grateful for our teachers who go above and beyond to make sure our kids experience the well-rounded education they deserve," Belcher said. "It is a great honor to be recognized by the New Jersey Department of Education for continuous improvement and commitment to supporting every student who is part of our team and family.” 

The Lighthouse District was an initiative of the administration of former Gov. Chris Chrisite after conversations with educators, families and students throughout the state, who felt there should be a greater focus on growth rather than proficiency alone.

“The aim of the Lighthouse initiative is not to identify the districts with the highest test scores, but rather districts that have shown the greatest improvement,” said Kathy Goldenberg, president of the State Board of Education. “By doing so, we give these local educators a platform in which they can share their initiatives, programs and successes with school leaders in other communities.”

In addition to KIPP NJ Newark, the 2019 Lighthouse Districts are Little Falls, Long Branch, Ocean City, Paul Robeson Charter in Trenton, Perth Amboy, Red Bank Borough, Somerville, Waterford, Washington Borough and West Deptford.

During the award term from July 2019 to July 2021, leaders from Lighthouse Districts will have the opportunity to participate in professional learning and networking opportunities between Lighthouse districts and other districts, take part in diversity and inclusion training, and provide insight to the NJDOE through policy discussions.