2012 Top High Schools Methodology

How the school rankings were compiled.

Data for the New Jersey Monthly ranking of the state’s high schools were obtained from the state Department of Education’s most recent New Jersey School Report Card (covering the 2010-2011 school year). Only public high schools were included in the list. Due to a lack of data, charter schools were excluded from the rankings. A handful of other schools lacking report-card data also were excluded. A separate list of vocational schools was compiled using a slightly different data set.

Leflein Associates, an independent research company in Ringwood, analyzed the data by first standardizing individual indicator scores so that small differences did not have a disproportionate impact on the ranking, but very large differences were not minimized in the relative scores. These indicators were grouped into three categories. Two of the categories—Student Performance and Student Outcomes—were given a weight of 1.5; School Environment was given a weight of 1. The weighted summary scores for each category were added together to arrive at the final overall score. The schools were ranked according to this score.

Here are the categories and indicators used in the ranking:

School Environment: The sum of the standardized rank scores for average class size; student/faculty ratio; percentage of faculty with advanced degrees; and number of AP tests offered, which was calculated as a ratio of grade 11 and 12 enrollment in order not to penalize smaller schools. (Senior class size is shown in the published charts for reference only; it is not part of the ranking calculation.)

Student Performance: The sum of the 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.

Student Outcomes: A single score based on a new graduation-rate calculation (four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate) introduced by New Jersey in 2011, as mandated by the federal government. Essentially, the adjusted cohort formula divides a school’s number of four-year graduates by the number of first-time ninth-graders who entered the cohort four years earlier. For further information, visit state.nj.us/education/data/.

Vocational schools: Schools defined in this category by the state Department of Education were ranked using the same methodology as other public schools, but with two exceptions. No average class size is available for these schools, since many students are shared with mainstream schools. Similarly, there is insufficient data on AP tests.

Special Notes: Some schools were missing only AP-related data, particularly the number of students who scored a 3 or higher on AP tests. For these schools (which had fewer than 10 students who took an AP test) a value was imputed for purposes of the ranking using an average of other schools in their DFG. Also, for certain districts where there were obvious errors in the data (Midland Park, Elizabeth and Paterson), corrections were obtained directly from the districts.

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