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Fixing Buffalo’s Schools: Why vocational schools in Newark, N.J., were chosen

The Buffalo News is spotlighting the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools because they have a similar demographic to the Buffalo Public Schools, yet consistently post some of the highest graduation rates in New Jersey. The district is one of 21 vocational school systems that exist in New Jersey, offering career-focused programs that allow students to take vocational courses while earning a high school diploma. Although New York has the regional Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which offers vocational training, BOCES students are dually enrolled with traditional school districts, and BOCES does not have authority to grant diplomas. The combined model used in New Jersey allows systems such as the Essex Tech schools to better integrate career courses with core subjects. – Tiffany Lankes

Essex County Vocational Technical Schools by the numbers

• 96 percent of Essex Tech students graduate from high school.

• 88 percent of students attend a 2- or 4-year college.

• 8 percent of students enter the workforce after graduation.

• 85% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.