Methodology: How We Compile the Top Schools

How did we determine the rankings in our list of top schools? Read our methodology and find out.

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Data for the New Jersey Monthly ranking of the state’s high schools was obtained from the state Department of Education’s most recent New Jersey School Performance Reports (covering the 2014-2015 school year). Only public high schools were included in the rankings. Among the 337 high schools ranked are seven charter schools. Schools lacking sufficient data were excluded.

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: School Environment, Student Performance and Student Outcomes. Certain indicators were given extra weighting, as described below. The weighted summary scores for each category were added together to arrive at an overall score. The schools were ranked according to that score.

Here are the categories and indicators used in the ranking:

● School Environment: The sum of the standardized rank scores for student/faculty ratio; number of AP and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) subjects offered; percent of 11th- and 12th-grade students taking at least one AP or IB test in any subject; and percent of students grades 9-12 taking at least one course in visual or performing arts. (Grade 12 enrollment is shown in the published chart for reference only; it is not part of the scoring.)
● Student Performance: The sum of the standardized rank scores for students scoring 1550 or better on the SATs; and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on AP tests or 4 or higher on IB tests.
● Student Outcomes: The sum of standardized rank scores for four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (the number of four-year graduates divided by the number of first-time ninth-graders who entered the cohort four years earlier); and the percentage of students enrolled in a two- or four-year college 16 months after high school graduation.
● Weighting: The overall student performance score has a weight of 2.0. The AP/IB participation score and the 16-month college enrollment score each has a weight of 1.5.

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