Newark, NJ — With the start of the spring semester this week, nearly 40 Newark high school students also began classes on the Rutgers University–Newark campus. The result of the first-ever dual enrollment memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Newark Public Schools (NPS) and Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences–Newark (SASN), students are participating in such course offerings as Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Caribbean Studies. Students are able to earn three college credits for each course.

“The opportunity for our high school students to realize now that college is possible is embodied in dual enrollment,” said Superintendent Roger León. “This experience is beyond realizing that our students can complete college courses [but that they can] compete at the very highest levels.”

Added Mario Santos, Assistant Superintendent of High Schools, “As a former principal…I know first-hand the advantage of providing resources to our students. I want to thank Rutgers University and encourage our students to take advantage of everything this awesome opportunity provides as they begin their journey through college.”

The MOU, approved by the Board of Education in December 2018, is in line with NPS’s increasing emphasis on college readiness. A recent report released by the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) and Rutgers–Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration found that while 54 percent of 2011-2016 Newark high school graduates immediately enrolled in college, only 23 percent earned any type of degree or credential within six years. NCLC brokered the dual enrollment partnership as a direct follow up on the report’s recommendations to improve college matriculation and completion for Newark students.

“Our goal at NCLC is to help as many Newark residents as possible to get into and through college, which is why we are excited to provide this opportunity for students to earn college credit while still in high school,” said NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis. “By expanding access to more rigorous course options, like dual enrollment, we ensure that more of our students are on track to graduate high school on time, as well as graduate ready to do college-level work.”

Notable about the agreement is that high school students attend classes on campus alongside current Rutgers undergraduate students, rather than taking online courses or courses offered on high school premises.

It is “not only an opportunity for high school students to enroll and experience the rigors of a college course, but to also get a glimpse into the college student experience. They will engage with our faculty [and] have academic and social exchanges with college students in and outside of the classroom,” said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at SASN, LaToya Battle-Brown.

Angela Mincy, Principal of Barringer High School, said, “This dual enrollment opportunity…will undoubtedly be a game changer for students. What better gift can we give our youth than exposure and access to high quality opportunities to push their intellectual and physical boundaries beyond the traditional high school walls?”

Indeed, physically being on a college campus is a key element for high school students to envision themselves as college students in the future. As Barringer High School student Yellybeth Diaz said about the Introduction to Psychology course she is taking on campus this semester, “Taking this class will give me a first-hand experience of what college life will be like…[and] will teach me how to be even more responsible academically and most importantly how to manage my time.”

Plans to expand the current dual enrollment agreement are already underway to include more NPS students and additional higher education institutions, including NCLC’s nine other higher education partners from the Greater Newark area. Increased dual enrollment opportunities provide pathways for more Newark students to successfully transition to college and ultimately earn their desired degrees.

Remarked Mr. Lewis, “The city has a lot of momentum; it’s more than just getting young people through high school, we’re building Newark’s emerging college-going culture.”

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