Blog

Insights and Trends in Student Enrollment

How a district improves academics – against all odds.

Posted June 25, 2018

Camden, New Jersey’s model for progress can be repeated.

Academic performance in Camden, New Jersey has come a remarkable way in the last five years. But from the start, the odds were against them. It’s among the state’s poorest school districts with around 95 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals. And in 2013, “only 1.4 percent of the city’s SAT-takers met the benchmark for college readiness” per The New York Times.

From then to today, “the dropout rate has been cut in half, and math and literacy scores have more than doubled over the past two years,” reports The 74 Million. And while their proficiency numbers (which have tripled from 2013) still have a ways to go to meet statewide averages, the district’s progress is undeniable.

A large force behind the turnaround is Paymon Rouhanifard, the district’s outgoing superintendent. His reforms started with a “portfolio model” mix of traditional public schools and public charters. At both, the programing has been about “building neighborhood schools” – whether they’re charters or not. “It’s not like choice for the sake of choice,” says Rouhanifard. Instead, Camden has focused on schools that work for its neighborhoods – addressing their unique challenges. That, in turn, attracts families to their schools and keeps students there, learning.

Takeaways from The 74 Million’s interview with Rouhanifard explain what has been key to Camden’s success – and provide a blueprint other districts can follow.

Camden’s model for academic growth:

  1. Fair, transparent access.
    Unlike some charter schools under fire for excluding minorities, Camden has placed a high priority on fair & transparent access in all their schools. There’s “a lot of intentionality that goes into maintaining our Camden enrollment program,” Rouhanifard says.

    The School Finder tool we at SchoolMint created for them has helped with that. As a one-stop website where parents can easily research all of the district’s schools and make informed decisions, School Finder is designed to level the playing field for all families, regardless of their resources. Fully multilingual to support English and Spanish speakers, the mobile-friendly platform reduces the traditional language and income barriers families face during the school enrollment process.

  2. Meet families where they are.
    In Camden, that means “wraparound support services like trauma-informed care and mental health clinics,” says Rouhanifard. And since 20% of low-income Americans only have internet access via smartphones, we’ve partnered with the district to make the entire enrollment experience for families in Camden – from research to application to registration to re-enrollment – mobile-friendly.

    Rouhanifard knows these measures “don’t necessarily lead to having test score gains overnight, but you’re absolutely doing what’s right by [the] community.”

  3. Unify, not divide.
    Rouhanifard actively engaged the community from all angles to build a broad base of support for the reforms. Today, traditional schools, charters, non-profits, and police are working together, and The New York Times notes by winning support in the traditional schools, Rouhanifard managed “transformation without the rancor that has frustrated change in other cities.”

    When different types of schools work together as one force in the community, it’s easier for families to engage with the school system – and the important tie between family engagement and academic progress goes without saying. We’ve partnered with Camden to develop a citywide Unified Enrollment System that brings their traditional and charter schools together under one common application and assignment process.

Despite the odds, Camden has made significant academic gains. And just as importantly, they’re doing right by their community to get there.

Enrollment Management
School Choice
Unifying Enrollment

Customer Story: Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA)

A Brooklyn, New York charter school has set the foundation for nurturing, growing, and empowering tomorrow's female leaders. And in so doing, they have created a haven for girls to thrive.
READ MORE
July 6, 2018
Application and Lottery
Data and Evaluation
Outreach and Engagement

Let data do the hard work with SchoolMint + Aeries integration

Put your data to work with SchoolMint + Aeries integration. SchoolMint supports a seamless, direct API integration with Aeries’ Student Information System.
READ MORE
June 13, 2018
Enrollment Management
School Choice
Unifying Enrollment

How Does SchoolMint Online Registration Software Compare to the Rest?

See how SchoolMint stacks up against the competition. Award winning customer service and an online experience your families will love.
READ MORE
May 29, 2018
Enrollment Management
School Choice
Unifying Enrollment

SIS Integration: Powerschool

Hundreds of schools use SchoolMint's secure, online student registration and data analytics solution to save time and costs associated with admissions, lottery, waitlist management, registration and SIS exports.
READ MORE
May 22, 2018
Enrollment Management
Outreach and Engagement
School Choice
Unifying Enrollment

Forms that fill themselves. Now that’s smart

What makes an enrollment form smart? Intelligent fields that pre-populate data you already know about your families. See how Form Builder helps deliver an enrollment and registration experience your families will love, tailored to your area’s specific needs.
READ MORE
May 9, 2018