New National Ranking Finds Newark Ranked #1 In The Nation For Public Schools That “Beat The Odds” For Black, Latino, & Low-Income Students

New Study Also Looks at Resilience of These Cities in Adapting to COVID-19 Remote Learning Practices

As America grapples with the dual crises of the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism, conversations of racial inequity in health, employment, criminal justice and education systems have come to the forefront of our national dialogue. Now, a new national ranking of 50 cities shows that Newark leads the nation in the number of “beat of the odds” public schools for Black, Latino, and/or Low-Income students—less than one week since the state announced it was formally ending its 20-year-plus control of the school system. 

The report and online interactive data tool, entitled “Resilience: Will Urban Schools that Beat the Odds Continue to Do So During the COVID-19 Pandemic?” focuses on measuring the share of students attending “beat-the-odds” schools per city— schools where students are substantially out-performing statistical predictions based on race and income. 

The study aims to serve as a catalyst to understanding which cities have the best access to life-changing schools for students of color and those from low-income families.  The analysis also begins to explore the resilience of those city school systems by analyzing data on their remote learning practices at the end of the first school year in the COVID-19 era.

“These findings tell a shared success story. Newark continues to show the nation that we can create a system of great public schools when district and charter schools work together to expand educational opportunity for all,” said New Jersey Children’s Foundation CEO and Founder Kyle Rosenkrans.

“Newark’s students, teachers, and leaders deserve immense credit for this historic achievement. When things got tough, the city banded together to create more unity, and study after study has shown that we now have a stronger school system for our children,” Rosenkrans said.

“The work is nowhere near done, but we applaud Newark’s public schools landing at the top of a national ranking and are heartened by what it means for the future of improvement efforts,” he added.

Among the key Newark-related findings of the study are:

  • Newark has nearly double the rate of beat-the-odds public schools than the next highest city (35%); the results were even stronger for Black students, where Newark also leads the nation with 39% of their schools beating the odds.
  • This success was driven by both the city’s high-performing charter school sector (75% “beat the odds”), as well as the city’s district schools which were twice as likely to “beat the odds” (16%) than the national average for district schools (8%).
  • The geographic distribution of “beat the odds” public schools of any kind varied widely from a high of 44% in the city’s West Ward, to 42% in the North Ward, 36% in the Central, 27% in the South, and 17% in the East Ward.

“Our report provides a city-by-city view of which large school systems are best delivering educational opportunity to historically disenfranchised groups,” said MarGrady Research Managing Partner and report co-author Jesse Margolis, PhD. “Even before this pandemic, too many students have faced long odds of success at school–especially African-American children. Our goal is to provide insight into which cities have school systems that are helping students beat the odds, as well as explore their early approach to teaching students in the era of COVID-19. Given the closure of school buildings over the past three months, we are particularly concerned about the resilience of beat-the-odds districts during a time of remote learning.”

In a companion issue brief, the researchers used a Center on Reinventing Public Education database to catalogue the year-end remote learning practices of these same school districts during the current pandemic.  They found that beat-the-odds districts and Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) have been relatively more likely to adopt several relatively uncommon practices, like synchronous teaching, synchronous student engagement, and attendance tracking. As districts develop plans for the 2020-21 school year that involve both remote and hybrid learning models, the analysis could be a helpful reference point.

The report was supported by the New Jersey Children’s Foundation, whose mission is to promote a fact-based discussion about public education in Newark, and has supported other research on Newark schools in the past.

About New Jersey Children’s Foundation:

The New Jersey Children’s Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting a fact-based discussion about public education in Newark. Our mission is to invest in people, programs, and partnerships that will improve public education systems by putting the interests of children first. Our vision is that every child will break down the walls of inequity through the creation of high-quality public education systems. Our theory of change is that when communities are armed with accurate information about public education and given the tools to act, cities will demand great schools for every student.

About MarGrady Research:

MarGrady Research helps education leaders make better-informed decisions to improve the lives of students. It does this through rigorous analysis of data, clear and insightful presentation of results, and the development of lasting partnerships with the school districts, foundations, and other education organizations it works with. See more at