For the first time since 2008, a new number 1 tops the New Jersey Monthly list of the state’s Top 100 Public High Schools. New Providence High School in Union County ascends to the summit of the rankings, up from number 5 on the previous list (published in September 2010). In fact, a number of high schools make significant moves up—or down—the list, which is based on data reported by the schools to the Department of Education for the 2010-2011 school year. (Click here for a complete explanation of our methodology)
Some of the biggest moves are fueled in part by New Jersey’s use of a new graduation-rate calculation. In the past, our rankings distinguished between students going on to four-year colleges, two-year colleges and other postsecondary schools. The data for students going to four-year colleges was given extra weight, making it a potent driver of the results. This year’s rankings use the new four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, introduced by New Jersey in 2011, as mandated by the federal government.
New Jersey Monthly made two other changes in compiling this year’s rankings: Because personal computers have become widespread among the high-school population, we eliminated student/computer ratio as a factor. More significantly, we increased the weighting for data on test results and the aforementioned graduation-rate calculation. The change in weighting is intended to emphasize the importance of student results at a time of budget cutting, when even the best schools must learn to do more with fewer resources.