Essex County Vocational Technical Schools (ECVTS) is a district that has been recognized by US News & World Report, Business Week Magazine, School Matters Magazine for its outstanding academic performance. Two of its schools are designated winners of the National Blue Ribbon Award. In September of 2012, West Caldwell Tech celebrated the distinction of being named a National Blue Ribbon school. Bloomfield Tech was recognized in 2009 as a National Blue Ribbon school. In addition, Bloomfield Tech was recognized as a New Jersey Title 1 Distinguished School in 2008. The school district provides college-preparatory and career and technical education for more than 2,000 high school students in Essex County.
The district – one of the oldest and largest in the state – serves a diverse population of students. More than 85 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and over 93 percent are from school districts formerly known as Abbot districts. The ECVTS population includes regular education students, special education students, students with Limited English Proficiency and adult learners who attend classes in the evenings. Over 84 percent of ECVTS graduates immediately pursue post-secondary education in college or technical school.
The district provides state-of-the art instruction in over 30 career and technical areas including: health careers, music production, computer and business technology, law and public safety, graphic design, green energy, television production, dental assistance, automotive, building trades, culinary arts and cosmetology.
Students at Essex County's Vocational Technical Schools outperform the students in their home sending districts on the High School state-standardized test. The district met its No Child Left Behind goals in Mathematics in 2006, and in 2007 achieved its goals in both Mathematics and Language Arts in all the measurable subgroups. In 2008, the district achieved its goals in Mathematics and Language arts in all subgroups but Special Education. The district continued to improve in 2009, and based on preliminary data, will achieve its goals in Language Arts Literacy. It may just miss making the goals in Mathematics again by a few students in one subgroup.
All four of the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools have shown marked and consistent improvement in student academic performance as measured by statewide test scores. Newark Tech's passing rate for Mathematics on the statewide High School Proficiency Assessment, which was only 39.7 percent in 2003 rose to 88 percent in 2009, while its Language Arts scores improved from 73 percent in 2003 to 97.6 percent. At North 13th Street Tech, students raised their Mathematics test scores from a 25 percent passing rate in 2003 to 70 percent in 2009 and their Language Arts scores shot up from 63 percent in 2003 to 85 percent in 2009. At Bloomfield Tech, students' scores in Mathematics rose from a 46 percent passing rate in 2003 to 93 percent in 2009 and from an 83 percent passing rate in Language Arts to a 100 percent.
The district was also recognized for several notable achievements recently. In 2009, the North 13th Street Tech campus was one of only 10 High schools in the country chosen to participate in a Professional Learning Community by the National Staff Development Council, an organization that works on state learning standards. In addition, Baruti Kafele, Principal of the ECVTS Newark Tech Campus, was nationally recognized as an outstanding educator when he was given a 2009 Milken Award. The district's Bloomfield Tech campus hosted the first statewide Green Energy Task Force for statewide educators in 2009. The West Caldwell Tech campus' Culinary Arts students came in second place statewide in 2009 in the ProStart Culinary Competition and won several awards at a statewide FFA competition.
The Newark Tech campus also hosted a legislative panel for the Joint Committee on Public Schools in 2009, showcasing its programs and students to New Jersey's state senators, assemblymen and assemblywomen and the North 13th Street Tech campus was recently chosen to take part in a four-year fine arts program by the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.
The Essex County Vocational Technical School District has partnerships with many public and private entities, including: Essex County College, The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, The New Jersey Institute of Technology, Public Service Electric & Gas, Covanta Energy, and the state of New Jersey.