I promised I’d have more to say about our exciting new enrollment system Newark Common App and now that we’ve completed the initial phase of the  application process (after extending the March 3 deadline to March 6)  I think it’s a good time to take stock of our initial results.

Just to review, Newark Common App is a new PreK-12 school application and enrollment process that is available to all Newark families looking to access some of our city’s great school options. It includes eight school networks that support 43 individual schools, which collectively serve over 25,000 students in Newark representing over 80% of students in Newark’s charter schools.

NJCF worked with the firm Avela to design and provide the technology for the new application system. Avela is a leading expert on school enrollment, and was founded and directed by Joshua D. Angrist, the 2021 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics. Like previous enrollment platforms, the Newark Common App features a centralized application, lottery, and waitlist for families to enroll at participating schools. However, the new portal provides families and schools with a shorter, more seamless and transparent process that promotes equity and access.

Since the platform launched last November and started accepting applications on December 1, thousands of families have completed applications. And contrary to questions raised by some, we did not hear about any widespread confusion by the families completing applications. Nor did we see anything in the application numbers to indicate that was the case. I personally reviewed every email sent to the help inbox and can attest to this. In all, the process went as smoothly as we had hoped.

So what comes next? I’m proud to say that we have moved quickly to re-open the application for waitlist schools, so families who missed the initial March 6 deadline can still be put on the waitlist for the school of their choice. In addition, we are now clicking into the matching phase of the process where we will ensure the process is transparent and the results promote equity and access.

Where exactly Newark is headed on its common enrollment policies is still to be determined, but one thing is for sure: this major transition to Newark Common App is off to a successful start.