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 2008-2009 school year). Only public high schools were included. Special-education and vocational-technical schools, as well as schools lacking report card data, were excluded (see Special Notes, below).
Monmouth University’s Polling Institute 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. The 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; student-computer 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. (Not all of these factors are shown in the published charts. Senior class size is provided 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 combined score of graduation rate multiplied by the percentage of graduates going on to post-secondary education. Those going on to a four-year college were given a weight of 1.5, those going to a two-year college were given a weight of 1, and those going to other colleges or post-secondary schools were given a weight of 0.67.
Special Notes: Charter schools and some academies and magnet high schools, such as Academy High in Passaic, did not have enough data to be included in the rankings. Also, some schools were missing only AP-related data, particularly the number of students who scored a 3 or higher on AP tests. These schools had fewer than ten students total who took an AP test and thus a value was imputed for purposes of the ranking (using data from similar schools, it was assumed that about 40 percent of those taking the AP test scored 3+).
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