U.S. News and World Report has released its fourth edition of the Best High Schools rankings, including rankings for schools in New Jersey.
Topping the state list was High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. The highest ranking high school in Essex County was Millburn High School, which placed 12th out of 377 public schools and 12 charter schools. Nearby Glen Ridge High School ranked 20th. Another high performing school was Livingston Senior High School, which came in at number 32.
With 1,981 students, Montclair High School did not rank in the top 50.
The magazine had this to say about the school: At Montclair High School, students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® coursework and exams. The AP® participation rate at Montclair High School is 46 percent. The student body makeup is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 51 percent. Montclair High School is the only high school in the Montclair.
The magazine said that 17 percent of the school's population is economically disadvantaged.
In comparison, at Millburn High School, the AP® participation rate is 63 percent. The student body makeup is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 21 percent. The school has 1,407 students and 1 percent of the population is economically disadvantaged.
Montclair School Board President Shelly Lombard said that, of course, the district's goal is to be in the top 50 or top 100.
"That's why we have spent an additional $3 million in this year's budget and over $5 million in the 2012-2013 budget to improve our schools," she said. "We invested in small learning communities at the high school, more librarians, more student assistance counselors, and technology. And we were able to do this without raising school taxes. Our goal is to find cost savings and invest those cost savings in things that benefit the students directly.
"But we must keep in mind that Montclair is not Millburn or Glen Ridge or Livingston. Our town has much more economic diversity," she added. "This is not a town where every parent can afford to supplement with expensive outside tutors and where most students have access to outside enrichment like trips abroad or to museums. So Montclair has a much bigger challenge when it comes to making sure all of our students are performing at a high level."
Lombard noted that nearly 20 percent of the school's students quality for free or reduced lunch.
"I am sure none of those towns have a school population that is so economically diverse," she said. "Our economic diversity is our appeal but is also our challenge."
U.S. News partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research (AIR), which implemented U.S. News's rankings methodology. To determine the Best High Schools national rankings, schools were first analyzed at the state level in terms of how well students in each school performed on state assessments, taking into account the test scores of disadvantaged students (low-income, Hispanic, and black), who tend to score lower on tests.
High schools that made it through this analysis were then eligible to be ranked nationally, in terms of college readiness. U.S. News determines the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work by analyzing student success in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, both of which include college-level courses.