Elizabeth Public Schools (39-1320)

Elizabeth Public Schools

Our Strategic Plan

Elizabeth Public Schools (EPS), the largest independently run school district in the State of New Jersey, continues to act upon its promise of providing an innovative and personalized learning environment that ensures that every child achieves excellence.

The implementation of initiatives is guided by the district’s Strategy Map and based heavily upon achieving our district’s vision, promise, and goals while ensuring that every child achieves excellence. For our professional community of team members to truly achieve excellence as stated in our district’s mission, our schools, offices, and community must treat each other well and embrace the vision of becoming one of the highest performing urban school districts in the nation.

Our Pledge of Ethics

EPS’s commitment to creating a loving and caring environment is best summed by the district’s Pledge of Ethics. The Pledge continues to be a hallmark of proper conduct within the district’s school buildings and central offices. The Pledge asks members of the EPS Professional Community to treat people as they wish to be treated, understand that the school community is a “special place”, listen to others respectfully, speak in a calm voice, dress appropriately, inspire the best in oneself and others, care about others, and be a life-long learner. The Pledge serves to change our district’s culture and increase team member morale by treating people well.

Safety in Our Schools

The district’s efforts to increase safety and discipline also falls in line with creating a loving and caring environment. All 35 district schools currently participate in the school uniform program, which began during the 2005-2006 school year with one school and now boasts over 27,000 students in uniform. Research has indicated that the use of school uniforms has a positive impact on student achievement and student discipline.

With the threat of security challenges unfortunately a part of present-day America, the district continues to update its Crisis Response Plan with an all-encompassing updated crisis plan provided to all schools and offices. A district-wide school security drills online reporting system is used to streamline recordkeeping, provide greater accountability, and provide timely, accurate reports to the Department of Education.

The Elizabeth Board of Education administers an automated phone messaging system, which allows EPS to alert large numbers of people (parents/guardians/team members) instantly in the case of an emergency or a special event. The system is a valuable tool to successfully notify parents about events such as school closings and Early Childhood registration.

EPS operates the “No Bully Zone” webpage on its district website that contains a wealth of information on ways to prevent bullying as well as the steps to take when reporting any incidents of Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB).

Healthy Students

Students throughout the district are provided breakfast each morning to ensure they are well nourished and prepared for learning. Studies have shown eating breakfast increases attentiveness and energy throughout the course of the school day. Additionally, EPS has collaborated with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to promote better food choices for students and has adopted strict nutritional guidelines in which the sugar, calorie and fat content of all foods served are thoroughly analyzed.

EPS was the first school district in the State of New Jersey to have all schools receive recognition by Alliance for a Healthier Generation. All Elizabeth schools that were eligible have reached National Healthier Schools award status.

EPS, in collaboration with the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce and Trinitas Regional Medical Center, hosts a “Healthy Leap into Summer” health expo for high school students. This annual health expo is the largest teen obesity awareness program in the nation, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Academic Recognition

Innovative educational experiences and services are provided to ensure that we meet our high standard of excellence. Comprehensive strategies and best practices implemented at the district level all ensure that our students meet the Common Core Curriculum Content Standards and successfully participate in state and district standardized assessments.

These steps taken by EPS have resulted in a number of state and nationally recognized schools and programs as designated by the United States and New Jersey Departments of Education as well as renowned media outlets and educational organizations.

EPS was the only district in the state with a bilingual program for students in grades kindergarten through 12 to be honored and designated as a model program by the New Jersey Department of Education.

A highlight of EPS’s success at the secondary level is Elizabeth High School (EHS) being one of 335 schools nationally, and one of 15 schools in NJ, to receive the National Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education. It was the fifth National Blue Ribbon Award earned by an EPS school overall since 2006.

Four of our high schools, Elizabeth High School (EHS), Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, and John E. Dwyer Technology Academy were ranked among the best high schools in the state and nationally among rankings published by US News & World Report and The Washington Post.

For exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years and/or closing the achievement gap between students, EHS and William F. Halloran School No. 22 were both named National Title 1 Distinguished Schools by the N.J. Department of Education.

Our schools have also proven to demonstrate great character as three district schools, including one preschool (Donald Stewart Early Childhood Center School No. 51) and two elementary schools (Nicholas S. LaCorte – Peterstown School No. 3 and Juan Pablo Duarte – José Julián Martí School No. 28), were named a N.J. School of Character by character.org while School No. 51 and School No. 28 were named National Schools of Character by character.org.

Achieving Academic Success

Excellence in teaching and learning at EPS begins with a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum. One of the critical elements of the curriculum is Language Arts Literacy. The district’s Early Literacy Program continues to flourish as individual students are provided targeted help in the primary grades by specially trained team members.

EPS educates its children from their infancy to provide the foundation for their future educational success. Elizabeth has an award winning full-day Pre-Kindergarten early childhood program for every single for three and four-year old. Pre-K classes are available both in-district and in partnership with local childcare providers. All classes are taught by certified team members and class sizes and are kept small with no more than 15 students to each teacher. Training in the High/Scope Approach to Early Childhood Education is provided to all new Early Childhood team members, along with refresher courses for more experienced professionals. The High/Scope approach to preschool education enables young children to take initiative and develop their social, intellectual, and physical capacities.

Children in grades K- 3 who score in the lowest 25% on formative and summative assessments are provided various interventions including tutoring. Students identified as in need of this intensive and specifically focused assistance receive small group instruction. Teachers are trained to diagnose the areas of difficulty of the student and to assist him/her with overcoming these roadblocks in order to foster his/her learning and to help him/her stay on level with the rest of the class in the area of reading development.

The language arts literacy program in grades 4-10, Literacy is Essential to Adolescent Development and Success or LEADS, is thematic based and consists of multiple writing tasks and project based learning. The LEADS program continues to provide intensive training in basic reading skills and emphasizes the art of writing, introducing our young readers to high quality classic and contemporary children’s literature. Our literature series features the literary works of a diverse field of authors that teaches the valuable concepts of reading, writing, and grammar while also introducing life and culture lessons.

In addition to providing students with the best possible opportunity to learn to read early and well and develop a passion for the written and spoken word, we also aim to promote social awareness through literary instruction and develop the idea of reading as a lifelong pursuit.

Preparing our Students for College and Career Readiness

One of the commitments of EPS is to prepare every student for college and career readiness, which it meets by offering excellent educational experiences through unique educational programs. Elizabeth has the highest graduation standards in the State of New Jersey with 160 credits required to graduate. Elizabeth High School requires 180 credits. EPS also provides more high school instructional time than any other school district, operating from 7:30 – 4:00 pm every day.

Community service is also an integral part of secondary education at EPS. Elizabeth’s high school students complete over 16,000 community service hours annually, helping them to be recognized as valuable members of our community and productive members of society

The United States Department of Education in recent years has emphasized the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education. EPS has continued to do its part to increase student interest in the STEM fields.

Students are offered a more advanced and rigorous mathematics program to prepare them for competition in the global marketplace once they leave our school system. Algebra continues to be a required course for all eighth grade students. This step provides freshmen at our six high schools with the tools to take Geometry during their first year.

The work begun in 2008 through our partnership with The Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) Academy for Leadership in Science Instruction continues to help Elizabeth with STEM goals. The goals of the Academy was to build a vision of effective science instruction; to deepen teachers’ knowledge and develop effective leadership skills to improve science instructional practice, curriculum, and assessment in their schools, and to share these practices with colleagues via targeted outreach. A sustainability plan helped to continue the work following the 5-year partnership coming to a close.

Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy School No. 26 is an International Baccalaureate (IB) School, which offers continuous international educational experiences from early childhood to pre-university age. A sequence of two programmes, the Primary Years Programme and the Middle Years Programme, provides a consistent structure of aims and values and an overarching concept of how to develop international-mindedness.

The NJIT Pre-Engineering program at Dwyer Technology Academy offers students a rigorous program of mathematics, science and technology courses that provide hands-on experiences to enable students to connect what they learn in school to different branches of engineering.

The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program continues at many district schools. AVID is a research-based instructional model that encourages students to prepare for and participate in a challenging college preparatory curriculum. In addition to enrolling in Honors and Advanced Placement level courses, students receive academic support through a specially designed AVID elective, taught by AVID-trained instructors.

Two of our high schools partner with the National Academy Foundation, a proven educational model which includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise. John E. Dwyer Technology Academy offers the Academy of Information Technology and the Academy of Engineering and Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. Leadership Academy offers the Academy of Finance.

The RUBY (Rutgers University Business for Youth) Program gives promising sophomore students the opportunity to experience a career in the financial world. RUBY consists of 10 two-hour sessions held weekly that introduced students to careers in finance.

Athletics and Arts

An important part of teaching and learning is creating a well-rounded student, which includes creating excellence in athletics and the arts. EPS continues to achieve excellence in athletics as several athletes and teams earned outstanding recognitions and awards from various media outlets.

The initiative was also taken to create arts-rich school cultures that provide students access to education in music, arts, visual arts, theater and dance. EPS has expanded opportunities for students by establishing partnerships with fine and performing arts organizations. One of the many highlights is members of the EHS Band playing side-by-side performances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra while younger students from various schools in the district were in attendance.

Elizabeth Public Schools also joined 476 districts across the country in being honored with the 2016 Best Communities for Music Education designation from the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education as well as many of our student artists being awarded at the Union County Teen Arts Festival in March.

Measuring Student Performance

Another important part of teaching and learning is the need to boost student performance on state tests. EPS conducts quarterly benchmarking and benchmark assessments in all content areas. A diagnostic approach is taken and interventions are put in place to ensure that all students are performing proficiently and at grade level. Test preparation was also streamlined into language arts and mathematics through the continued use of the benchmark system.

Record-keeping of both teachers and administrative team members has increasingly been integrated with technology to improve data collection. EPS uses a robust student information system known as Pearson’s PowerSchool® Premier. The technology provides administrators, team members, parents and students access to important information regarding day-to-day activities.

Technology and Support

EPS’s technology initiative has significantly enhanced teaching and learning while yielding impressive results. In fact, Elizabeth Public Schools was among a select number of school districts throughout the United States to be recognized by President Barack Obama for its commitment to support the President’s vision when he announced “Computer Science for All,” a $4 billion initiative to expand computer science in grades K-12.

EPS is one of the inaugural members of innovateNJ Community. The Division of Innovation launched the innovateNJ Community initiative in spring of 2014 as part of the Department of Education’s goal to support schools and districts in the exploration and implementation of innovative instructional practices and programs.

EPS is a 1:1 school district with computer access being provided to every single child from third through twelfth grade via tablet or laptop. SMART and STAR boards, a white board that connects and interacts with computer technology, can be found in all of our schools, including our early childhood centers, to provide students with innovative lessons in all subject areas.

As a shining example of the district’s commitment to technology, Terence C. Reilly School No. 7 was selected as an Apple Distinguished School for 2015–2017 in recognition of the school’s exemplary learning environment for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence.

The district uses technology to engage and strengthen its relationship with the community. In addition to its main website, the district maintains a Facebook page; Twitter page; Flickr page; YouTube channel; and EPS/TV, an Internet site that streams live EPS events, leveraging the strength of social media to broadcast information to a larger audience.

EPS also implemented its customer service website EPS Direct that is dedicated to meeting the needs of our parents, guardians, and residents.

New Classrooms – Teach to One

In 2013, EPS opened the iPrep Academy School No. 8, a K-8 school, which features 1:1 learning. Every student is equipped with a tablet or laptop computer and instruction is modeled after NYC’s School of One program through our strong partnership with New Classrooms. New Classrooms Teach to One leverages classroom design, teacher talent, and technology to enable personalized learning for every student every day.

In an effort to restructure the school design and curriculum of George Washington School No. 1, EPS created two schools, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, out of what was originally one large PK-8 school. George Washington Academy of Science and Engineering School No. 1 was created along with Jerome Dunn Academy of Mathematics, Technology and the Arts School No. 9. School No. 9 became the district’s second Teach To One Center.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education awarded New Classrooms Innovation Partners a $3 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to expand its successful personalized learning model at EPS. Through the procurement of the i3 grant, 25% of Elizabeth’s 27 K-8 schools implemented Teach to One: Math in 2015-2016. The grant also allows New Classrooms to conduct a rigorous three-year impact study with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Elizabeth Selected to National League of Innovative Schools

Elizabeth Public Schools was among 22 school districts throughout the United States selected to the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. The League, an initiative of Digital Promise, is a coalition of forward-thinking school districts and their leaders that represent an invaluable trove of insights, ideas, and experiences for how to transform teaching and learning. Digital Promise is an independent, bipartisan nonprofit that was authorized by Congress in 2008 and formally launched by President Barack Obama in September 2011 with a mission to improve the opportunity to learn for all Americans through technology and research.

EPS is one of 73 school districts in 33 states, representing more than 3.2 million students. League members share lessons learned, participate in national and regional forums, and partner with research institutions, technology developers, and one another to deliver better results for students.

Schools That Are Efficient, Safe and Warm

The Elizabeth Board of Education continues to modernize and construct school buildings and provide our students with warm learning environments. EPS is a leading urban school district to receive NJ school construction funding, which has paid 100% of the expenses for the construction of 13 new schools over a 10 year period.

During 2015-2016, construction of the new Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy continued. The new four-story facility, designed to educate nearly 1,100 students, will contain 36 regular education classrooms, 8 science labs, 8 small group instruction classrooms, 5 self-contained special education classrooms, an auditorium, cafeteria and full service kitchen, a gymnasium with lockers and showers, an auxiliary gymnasium, a media center, and several specialized rooms such as a health and fitness suite, a student activity center, and an engineering and robotics room. The school is anticipated to open its doors to students in September 2016.

A groundbreaking for the new William Halloran School No. 22 was held in December 2015. Amenities of the new 140,000-square-foot School No. 22, designed to educate approximately 890 students in second through eighth grades, include 34 general education classrooms, three special education classrooms, six science demonstration rooms and labs, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a multi-purpose room with stage, an iLeap digital media center, and administrative offices. The targeted completion of School No. 22, the tenth newly constructed school facility since 2004, is 2017.

Throughout the year, EPS district team members continue to work with the NJSDA to design future schools and to secure the necessary land on which to build the new facilities the district so desperately needs.

All Means All

Our belief that “All means All” applies to everyone in the community this belief applies to our students as well as our team members. That mantra helps to keep us intensely focused on our 3 E’s: Equity, Expectations, and Excellence.

Our Three E’s:

As a nation, America’s Promise is that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity or social class, should receive a high quality, academically rich and rigorous public education.

The concept of high expectations is premised on the philosophical and pedagogical belief that a failure to hold all students to high expectations effectively denies them access to a high quality education, since the educational achievement of students tends to rise or fall in direct relation to the expectations placed upon them.

Educational Excellence is defined as students performing at high levels or where students are making significant gains in academic achievement helping to prepare every child for global competitiveness.

Our Core Beliefs

Many steps have been taken and numerous initiatives have been launched that we believe will have a significant impact on student achievement in the years ahead so that every child, achieves excellence. These principles are firmly rooted in our core beliefs:

We believe ALL students can learn and achieve at high levels regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, neighborhood, household income or home language.

ALL Means ALL. We will narrow the achievement gaps of students by providing a high quality education to ensure that ALL of our students are college and career ready.

We believe teachers make a positive difference in student achievement. Teachers will prepare ALL students for success in college, career, and our technological global society.

We believe that teachers are central in a child’s life. Having an effective teacher is the single most important factor in student success.

We believe that effective leaders demonstrate unwavering commitment to high levels of achievement for ALL students.

Leaders will exemplify and support practices that promote high levels of achievement for ALL students.

We believe that parents and caregivers are both valued partners and active participants in their children's learning. A shared sense of mutual responsibility for learning is the foundation for family involvement to ensure student success.

We are committed to engaging parents and caregivers in their children's education. We will develop a coordinated strategy that enables parents and caregivers to play an active role in building and sustaining family support for their children's learning and academic success.

We believe that every member of the Elizabeth Public Schools team has a responsibility in producing and supporting high levels of achievement for ALL students.

Every member of the Elizabeth Public Schools team will make a measurable contribution to the success and achievement for ALL students by ensuring equitable distribution of resources throughout the organization.