Top Schools 2014: Methodology

How we compile the school rankings.

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 Performance Reports (covering the 2012-2013 school year). Only public high schools were included in the rankings. Among the 339 high schools ranked are seven charter schools. A handful of schools lacking sufficient data were excluded. A separate list of the top 20 vocational schools was compiled using only the limited set of data available from the DOE.

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 (with a weight of 1); Student Performance (with a weight of 1.5); and Student Outcomes (with a weight of 2.1). The weighted summary scores for each category were added together to arrive at the final 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; and percent of 11th- and 12th-grade students taking at least one AP or IB test in English, math, social studies or science. (Grade 12 enrollment is shown in the published charts for reference only; it is not part of the scoring.)

Student Performance:
The sum of the standardized rank scores for students scoring 1,550 or better on the SATs; the combined percentage of students showing advanced proficiency on the HSPA exams; 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.

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 limited data. The School Environment score is based solely on student/faculty ratio. Student Performance is based on SAT and HSPA scores only. Student Outcome is based on adjusted cohort graduation rate only.

Special Note:
For certain districts where there were obvious errors in the data (Madison Borough, Monmouth Regional, Piscataway Township, Palisades Park, Paterson City and Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology), corrections were obtained directly from the districts or were based on prior rankings.

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