City of Perth Amboy: Creating Learning Centers

National Resource Network Perth Amboy, New Jersey January 4, 2016 Workforce Development

In March 2015, the City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey requested assistance from the Network to create a workforce development program between local schools, technical programs, Middlesex County College, and Rutgers University.

The unemployment rate in Perth Amboy (9.6 percent) exceeded the average for the State of New Jersey (5.6 percent) and Middlesex County (5.1 percent). The city believed that there was a mismatch between available jobs and the skills Perth Amboy residents possessed, exemplified by the high proportion of residents over age 25 that had no high-school diploma (32.3 percent) and the small percentage of the population that had post-high school degrees (20.0 percent).

The city asked the Network to study why many Perth Amboy students do not move on to employment or higher education after completing high school, and why a high percentage of students do not earn a high-school degree. The city proposed that – given its current educational attainment levels and academic performance – increasing youth education achievement is essential to the city’s economic competitiveness in future years. As a result, the city sought to identify opportunities to address this challenge and take action to increase resident educational attainment and job readiness.

The National Resource Network proposed providing the city with a case study-based summary of select best practices in three cities to improve student learning and academic performance. The revised scope – the basis for this report – highlights opportunities where the city can best take action to improve youth learning and academic performance. Although the city has no direct role in the funding or governance of Perth Amboy Public Schools, it can still play an important role in improving student performance. There are many opportunities for the city to enhance after school programs and recreation activities in order to maximize the effect on student performance in schools. Ensuring that the outcomes of city-run after school programs are aligned with in-classroom learning objectives and programs will allow the city to have a direct impact on student learning.

The Network’s engagement in Perth Amboy was led by consortium member PFM; this work was done as part of the New Jersey State Resource Network (NJ SRN).

City of Perth Amboy: Creating Learning Centers