Top Public High Schools in New Jersey

Top high schools in NJ.

New Jersey Monthly has produced this biennial ranking since 1994. But after twelve years it was time to reassess our assessment. So we fine-tuned our criteria, taking into account factors such as class size and teachers with advanced degrees. The resulting ranking is part of the most comprehensive education package the magazine has ever produced.*

For the first time, we compare schools of similar socioeconomic backgrounds. We report on the value of Advanced Placement classes and the dilemma posed by alternative paths to a high school diploma.


Data for New Jersey Monthly’s biennial 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 2004–2005 school year). Only public high schools were included. Special-education and vocational-technical schools, as well as schools with no report card data, were excluded.

Monmouth University’s Polling Institute analyzed the data by first standardizing scores for individual statistics so that small differences did not have a disproportionate impact on the rankings and large differences were not minimized. These statistics were grouped into three categories. Each category was given equal weight in the rankings.

The categories used in the rankings are:

1. School Environment: The sum of the standardized scores for average class size; student-to-faculty ratio; student-to-computer ratio; percentage of faculty with advanced degrees; and number of AP tests offered compared to the total number of juniors and seniors (a calculation designed to avoid penalizing smaller schools).

2. Student Performance: The sum of the standardized scores for average combined SAT score; percentage of students achieving advanced proficiency on HSPA; and students scoring a 3 or higher on AP tests as a percentage of all juniors and seniors.

3. 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 4-year college were given a weight of 1.5, those going to a 2-year college were given a weight of 1, and those going to other colleges or post-secondary schools were given a weight of .67.

Other New Jersey Report Card statistics that were not part of the ranking calculation include the percentage of students taking the SAT; the two-year change in SAT scores; the percentage of all eligible students taking an AP test; and the percentage of graduates going directly into a job or the military after high school.

A Word of Thanks

New Jersey Monthly conducted a series of meetings with leaders from New Jersey United for Higher School Standards; Business Coalition for Educational Excellence at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; New Jersey Parent Teacher Association; New Jersey Education Association; New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; and New Jersey School Boards Association. These meetings yielded changes to the criteria used in our rankings. While not every organization taking part in these discussions agrees with each of the new criteria, these meetings generated a productive discussion on what makes high schools successful.

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