How Does NJ Monthly Rank High Schools?

Senior editor comments on magazine's methodology.

When last week,  was ranked as #60 in the entire state. Two years ago, when the rankings were last released, the school was ranked 62. The drop represents an upward trend for SPFHS, which came in at #69 in 2008.

Eric Levin, a senior editor at NJ Monthly, said the magazine gets their data for measuring the schools from the state report cards. In the case of the 2012 ratings, the magazine , which were released in May.

Changes in how the state Department of Education (DOE) measures school data affected the rankings for several schools, Levin said.

"We're dealing with different kinds of numbers that measure different things than before," Levin said. "That has affected the ratings, in some cases a lot, in some cases a little."

Levin—who was not directly involved in the NJ Monthly article rating high schools—said the magazine did not verify information from the report cards with the individual schools. "We don’t deal with the schools. We get all the data from these rankings from the state [report cards]," he said.

The rankings themselves were compiled by Leflein Associates, an independent research company in Ringwood. Leflein measured three categories for the rankings in the following ways, according to NJ Monthly:

Student Performance: This category included class size; student/faculty ratio; percentage of faculty with advanced degrees; and number of AP tests offered proportional to student enrollment in 11th and 12th grades.

Student Outcomes: This category measured standardized rank scores for average combined SAT score; percentage of students showing advanced proficiency on HSPA; and students scoring a 3 or higher on AP tests as a percentage of all juniors and seniors.

School Enrollment: This category rated graduation rates, according to a new federally-mandated method for calculating the rate (four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate). The new formula divides a school's number of four-year graduates by the number of first-time ninth-graders who entered the school four years earlier.

According to NJ Monthy's listing, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School has an adjusted cohort graduation rate of 96.61 percent. The student/faculty ratio is 12.3, higher than or equal to all schools listed higher in the rankings.

Students who took one of the 20 AP tests offered at WHS had a pass rate (3 or higher of 5) of 80.1 percent, which is a greater percentage than 17 of the schools that placed higher on NJ Monthly's list.

Rachel Gillett contributed to this article.

Pretty boxes August 30, 2012 at 07:42 PM
The town council and zoning people have to share some blame for the relatively high student to teacher ratio. Thanks to SP's "stupid growth" as opposed to Fanwood's more conservative strategy, lots have been so sub-divided and sub-sub-divided in the newer garish McMansion developments you can lean out your window and paint the house next door. If each of these McMansions has 2 kids the numbers add up pretty fast. Developers and real estate agents get their piece and walk away unscathed and the town collects ginormous taxes on these tacky drywall behemoths while only the school system suffers.


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