Newark Common App, the new, state-of-the art school enrollment platform in Newark, recently passed a major milestone: releasing the initial round of school matches for the 2023-24 school year to all Newark families who applied by the March 6 deadline. 

Newarkers demanded an easier, more transparent and equitable school enrollment process – and in its first year Newark Common App has delivered exactly that. This success was the result of months of development, research and most importantly listening to the needs of Newark families and schools.

In previous years, Newark families and schools saw enrollment centers close and experienced onerous documentation requirements, long delays in matches, and matching errors.  In response to these issues, the New Jersey Children’s Foundation (NJCF) and a coalition of Newark’s highest-performing public schools launched Newark Common App last fall.  

NJCF hired the firm Avela, the leading national expert on school enrollment founded by Joshua D. Angrist, the 2021 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, to create Newark Common App. The new platform features a centralized application, lottery, and waitlist for families while providing a shorter, more seamless process that promotes equity and access.  

Releasing the school matches marked yet another important step forward and culminates the initial enrollment period for the new platform. In its first  year, Newark Common App met every deadline, provided Newark families with a seamless, easy to use process, supplied needed school information to families as they finalized their school choices, and ensured greater transparency and more equitable access to the school of their choice.  

This year, nearly 3,500 Newark families participated in the Newark Common App enrollment process.  The largest number of families applied for a kindergarten slot and of those 98% were matched to the top school of their choice.  Looking across all grades, 83% of families received one of their top three choices. Most importantly, in contrast to the previous enrollment process, these Newark Common App matches prioritize homeless and displaced students, including preferences for special education students, English-language learners, and those who qualify for free lunch to help those student populations access participating schools. 

I couldn’t be more proud of the work the team at Newark Common App has been doing and look forward to continuing to report on their exciting progress.