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Three SP High Schools Rank High on US News Survey

A fourth Scotch Plains high school was "nationally recognized" in the U.S. News & World Report survey.

U.S. News & World Report has released its Best High Schools in New Jersey rankings, and some Union County high schools did quite well:

  • — part of Union County Vo-Tech in Scotch Plains — ranked #4 in the state, #106 in the U.S.
  • Union County Magnet High School in Scotch Plains was #13 in New Jersey and #243 in the U.S.
  • Summit High School was #25 in New Jersey and #425 nationally.
  • has come in at #19 statewide and 370th nationally.
  • The Academy for Information Technology — also part of Union County Vo-Tech in Scotch Plains — ranked #27 in New Jersey and #443 in the U.S.
  • New Providence High School Ranked 31st in New Jersey and #549 nationally.
  • Union Cty. Vo-Tech High School in Scotch Plains was not ranked but was "recognized nationally."

The Academy for Allied Health Sciences, Union County Magnet, Summit HS, Westfield HS and The Academy for Information Technology were all awarded Gold ratings. New Providence HS had a Silver designation. Union County Vo-Tech enjoyed a Bronze designation.

See the full New Jersey list here.

To make the evaluations, U.S. News teamed up with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research (AIR), described as "one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world."

Schools were awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals based on state proficiency standards, how well they prepare students for college, and other factors — including how economically disadvantaged kids fared compared to statewide averages. The full methodology can be found here.

Of course, such surveys always have their critics. As one commenter on a Huffington Post story about the survey wrote: "Like almost all of these lists, it is not the 'best schools' being identified, but the 'schools with the best students.' As someone else once said (forget who) it would be like ranking hospitals based on how healthy the patients are when they check in?" The commenter noted that a high number of magnet schools made the top of the list.

U.S. News calculates these values based on student performance on state exit exams and internationally available exams on college-level coursework (AP®/IB exams).

Tell us where you think your school should rank. 

Michael Lewis May 11, 2012 at 01:44 PM
(...continued from above) Finally, while I agree that there seems to be a skew in emphasis away from academics in general, I tend to believe that it is because there are too few alternatives to band, chorus or sports – not because there are too many extracurriculars (certainly not on an MS level!). In the end, it boils down to priorities, and in my opinion a conscious decision has been made to skew toward the greatest good for the greatest number with a capped level of tax dollars. I have always thought we could (and should) do more than we do with what we have but that involves both changes in the Legislative framework as well as the framework (and mindset) within which our own Administration operates. To this point, given the overall priority, reasons offered for disparities in test scores between various towns have – in my mind – been reasonable. Whether the academic bar should be raised, how, and at what cost to the broader priority (and whether that priority is even an accurate reflection of the two towns) is a fair point for further discussion.
Jenni May 11, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Michael- i believe you are 100% correct in your view of the Middle School (MS) extra's. These were added due to the decline in the MS NJASK scores the last few years. The ironic thing is last week the SP Times listed the names and grades of both MS Distinguised Honor Roll/Honor Roll students - notice the decline by 8th grade. Plus, if we have so many, why are the NJASK scores so low? Something is wrong, and no one is fixing it. This is a HUGE problem .
Sudsy May 11, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Thank you for this post, Mr. Lewis. Very fair and open-minded. My own feeling is that despite our DFG categorization with Summit, Berkeley Heights, New Prov, Westfield, Cranford, and Mountainside, SPF has several fundamental differences from them that make comparisons, and competition, futile. This doesn't mean our schools can't improve or that we shouldn't discuss methods of reallocation of resources to achieve it. But I think each town has to follow its own path, and that we'll never be a Westfield in more ways than just our downtown.
DAM May 12, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Extra-curricular activities at the Middle Schools have always been at a minimum ... At the High School, there is much to offer beyond the Music program and Sports ... its DECA program has been one of the best among Distributive Ed groups in the State for a generation; Model UN and Junior Statesmen programs attract nearly 100 participants each; the revival of the National Honor Society nearly a decade ago continues to flourish; and SCN and SMAC are leaders among several clubs devoted to student service to others ... There is much to offer, and few students devote their time to only one major activity beyond the classroom.
bubba May 12, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Look the activities at the school are fine, but we get our kids into more second tier schools and less first tier than we should. We have one national merit finalist this year, I had to look it up thats a drop from the previous years. Our SAT scores are right around the national average, while income in this town is certainly much higher than the national average. I've worked for my own college admissions as a volunteer interviewer, and yes the SAT is 50% of what they trust, why because there are too many kids with straight A averages who never took a hard class. My problem is from what I saw on these comments was first someone wanted to blame the number of minorities for our low rank, they adjust for that an thanks to nclb report card we can see they outperform expectations for most part, then its the magnet schools at fault, well everyone in county has that problem, then its special ed, but we have a lower percentage on IEP than other districts. Lets just admit that that the HS is not performing up to snuff for the largest group there, the average white kids who are performing way below expectations on the state report card. I blame a weak administration and weak standards. We can win band awards out the wazoo, but i just went through 3 years of college announcements and during that time only 7 kids went to music colleges. Maybe we need to go to a block schedule and get the kids the basics, and get their SATs up.

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