Ridgewood High School National Ranking Published in Newsweek

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

This week Newsweek published its annual rankingsof the top high schools in the US.


Ridgewood High School was on the list again, as it has been in previous years, but it is worth noting the direction the school’s ranking has taken over the years. Here’s a quick summary that you can see for yourself if you follow the link above:

2005 – Ranked 321 out of 1,036
2006 – Ranked 480 out of 1,236
2007 – Ranked 576 out of 1,346
2008 – Ranked 531 out of 1,355

While there were about 30% (319) more schools added between 2005 and 2008, Ridgewood’s ranking fell by about 65% (210 spots).

Now wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the schools that have the greatest RISE in ranking over the same time period are doing and try to emulate them if possible? In business we call this “Benchmarking” or copying “Best Practices.”

Here’s a short list of Top 100 schools that blew through the Rankings in the same time period:
Ranked 192 in 2003 – Ranked 19 in 2008: Coral Reef in Miami, FL
Ranked 465 in 2003 – Ranked 31 in 2008: Newport in Bellvue, WA
Ranked 241 in 2003 – Ranked 34 in 2008: HIllsborough in Tampa, FL
Ranked 721 in 2003 – Ranked 36 in 2008: Little Rock Central in Little Rock, AK
Ranked 535 in 2003 – Ranked 41 in 2008: Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City, OK

Granted, “test scores and rankings aren’t everything,” but they are one easily quantifiable barometer of how we compare to other schools using the same criteria for measurement.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to look into what some of these highly improved public schools have done to get where they are. I would personally rather see some money spent trying to learn from better programs than paying for consultants and “studies” that don’t really help our district move the ball forward. That’s just one man’s opinion.

Look at the rankings for yourself and read the analysis that comes with it. Maybe this would be an interesting topic to bring up at the next BOE meeting.

We take our kids’ school test scores and SAT scores seriously and we pay top dollar for courses and tutors to improve those scores. Why not invest in improving our High School’s national ranking score too?

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  1. But we’re still ahead of Patterson and Newark, right?

    And we met the state standards, right?

    So why all the fuss?

  2. Ridgewood does not need to hire anybody. Look into our own little experiment and you will find what works and what does not (at elementary and middle school levels). Hiring yet another consultant is wasteful and disrespectful. That money is needed in other areas (books for example)but I doubt Ms. Bostford will ever accept mistakes had been made and need to be corrected asap.

  3. this is what you voted for

    *stupid math
    *the “gee we beat newark” standard
    *no more voting on the budget

    stop complaining cowards you got what you voted for I hope they hire a 100 consultants and add TERC reading to TERC math

  4. Where’s Charlie, surely he will defend the district.

    After all, we moved up past 54 other high schools in a year’s time to end up #531.

    That should count for something.

  5. Let’s see what Mr. Hutton (we are excellent!) has to say about this.

  6. Millburn, NJ is ranked 147. So, what’s the problem with Ridgewood? Could it be the absent-minded leadership of our BOE?

  7. and you people keep voting for the same leadership ….must be something in the water?

  8. Oh puleeze! This is just a list.

  9. What were those figures in the 1990’s? Why have we fallen so far? Who has been held accountable for this?

    Most of the testing is based on a Freshman level. By Junior year we should have 100%. More often the problem is motivation and not intelligence.

  10. Ranked 531 out of 1,355 is not so bad, is it?

  11. yes and we beat out our bench mark “Newark”

  12. To 1:12 –

    Re: Ranked 531 out of 1,355 is not so bad, is it?

    Sure, top 40%… that’s great…

    We are a little better than “average” in an “above average class” (top schools)…
    Sure what’s wrong with that…

    Sounds like we got our money’s worth… quite a well oiled machine we’ve paid for.

    I know it meets the dreams that I have for my kids… for them to be able to live a “slightly above average” life in an above average country.

    Looks like Mission Accomplished to me…

  13. why dosent the BOE sell tee shirts that say “Ridgewood Schools Top 40%”

  14. and dont forget 207 we still beat out Newark…

  15. We are committed to mediocrity and we have achieved that goal admirably.
    My oldest is a RHS grad. My next 3 will not attend that school.

  16. hey look it only took 80 million bucks to be “slightly above average”

  17. as a ridgewood resident with no kids, this really is upsetting and aggrevating to see that our tax dollars are going no where.

    Also, in all fairness shouldn’t you be comparing schools that jumped from 2005 to 2008 and not 2003? That would be an apple to apples comparison.

    However, your point is still made.
    yet again and again and again

  18. Hey, look at the list on the link.
    Only about 6-8 schools in the NJ list did better AND not by much over the recorded time.
    I’m not saying this is ok for Ridgewood, but seems to be some type of trend.
    Do all the towns listed have bad BOEs or is there another factor that we are missing?
    Maybe it has to do with home life of this generation of kids?
    Maybe it’s the culture of the kids today and they think that school doesn’t matter.
    I don’t know, but it just seems to be some type of trend, not just in Ridgewood.

  19. Off topic / FYI – It’s confirmed that Dr. Monica Browne is leaving Somerville Elementary. She has been appointed the Superintendent of Upper Saddle River School District. Somerville parents received a letter from Dr. Browne today.

  20. 3:03 PM –

    We’re Ridgewood… we’re supposed to rise above the trend. We’re supposed to be the district that others look to for insight on how to do it right.

    We used to be.

    Either we have taken a wrong turn or we have sat on our laurels while others have continued to advance. Either way, we are becoming “nothing special”. Momentum will carry us for another 10 (probably 20) years, with no sudden or dramatic shocks… just a slow erosion that will be accepted by the community since we will still sit atop the larger eroding standards in the state (…Only about 6-8 schools in the NJ list did better AND not by much…).

    But don’t try to reverse the trend lest you be labeled as part of the “lunatic fringe” or a “Ridgewood Hater”. Ironic isn’t it… the true “Ridgewood Lover” being branded a “Ridgewood Hater” by those gleefully driving the town into the ground.

  21. To 2:17 pm –

    Re: “we still beat out Newark…”

    That could be on the back of 2:16’s t-shirt!

  22. 3:03 PM,

    There we go. Good job. I knew it couldn’t be the system and that there had to be another reason for RHS’s just above average ranking.

    It’s the kids, stupid. Or shall we say, the stupid kids.

  23. 2:44 –

    You said…
    We are committed to mediocrity and we have achieved that goal admirably.

    NOT SO FAST! Don’t go declaring victory yet – We still have 10% to go and you know how hard it is to get that last 10%! We need to bear down hard… just look what happened in the last year, we saw the 50% goal in sight(we were in the top 43%), relaxed a bit and “slid” back up to the top 39% this year! If we want to achieve our goal of mediocrity (and please, stop using the archaic “mediocrity” term… use the correct terms from now on… “fairness” and “equality”) we are going to have to re-double our efforts and STAY FOCUSED! It’s going to take the commitment of a “village” in time and treasure to achieve the nirvana of the sweet spot of “fairness and equality”… 50%!

    That goes for you too 2:51… Open up yer pocketbook… equality don’t come cheap! You think 80 million was a lot… you aint seen nothin’ yet… we’re just gettin’ started.

    But with a little luck, persistence, a lot of money and a total disregard for parents and taxpayers, I think… I mean, I KNOW we can do it!!!

  24. Want to see the comparison between the APPLES? Look no further:

    Statewide Test Scores 2007

    And don’t worry, help is heading our way:

    Assembly approves big changes in schools, orders cost-cutting

  25. Botsford has the answer. Her quote in the Ridgewood News has her saying she wants a full time kindergarten to teach the kids a “poistive sense of self”. This really isn’t an academic provence , is it? Well, it just about tells the direction our school system has gone in. It is now social engineering, not academics.

  26. 3:49
    She just came back from an all expence paid trip to New Orleans with 3 others 2 of which are also leaving.

    What a waste of money, Who approved this going away and retirement party?

  27. where does 40% come from because its top 1300 in the US. Please educate me on which type of math you are using so I can reconfigure and respond.

  28. Isn’t that the job of a parent… to teach a “positive sense of self?” Is Mrs. Botsford the parent of all our children? Does she get paid more for doing that?

  29. Pj what do you know of a pedestrian being hit by a car at the intersection of Northern parkway and Linwood yesterday at around noon? I was told the girl was an RHS junior student…

  30. the rankings are based on the number of AP tests taken per year

  31. I heard that the RHS junior was hit by a car, broke both legs but is doing ok today. Didn’t hear anything else yet as to circumstances of accident.

  32. 8:27 you can look that kind of stuff up on the police blotter.

  33. In addition to the tests taken, the ranking is based on the scores the students receive. They base this ranking on the belief that if a school encourages more of its students to take the AP tests and educates them to the point where many get a good grade, then the school is considered doing its job very well.

    It’s basically the OPPOSITE of the public educators dream to be judged solely be AUTHENTHIC ASSESSMENT criteria. (You teach yourself, then test yourself and declare how great you are–yourself.)

    Here, here Mrs. Botsford. Your little plan for self assessment won’t wash in the “real” world.

  34. Actually, 6:29, you are incorrect. The ranking is NOT based at all on the scores. .Just on the percentage of kids taking the test. Here is the quote from Newsweek’s website:

    “Public schools are ranked according to a ratio devised by Jay Mathews: the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. “

    This is an extremely weak measurement, if you ask me. And it was also the opinion of 38 school districts in 4 states who boycotted supplying their info to the magazine for its ranking. This group included some of the top districts in the country (Tenafly, for one local example).

    Another reason the Newsweek ranking is suspect is the fact that Newsweek’s owner, the Washington Post Co., also owns Kaplan Test Prep…so any article that results in pushing more testing would be good for business.

    It’s just all silly…we should not be wasting our energy on the ranking of one tiny data point.




  35. I stand corrected 9:28 AM. Here’s why Matthews decided not to count passing rates:

    “I decided not to count passing rates because I found that most American high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses. In other instances, they opened the courses to all but encouraged only the best students to take the tests.”

  36. It doesn’t really matter why he did it the way he did it…the point is, it’s a misleading and weak way to rank the “quality” of schools. Would you agree?

  37. 1116 NO I dont agree at all

  38. and 1116 I think its “misleading and weak ” for BOE hacks to go on this blog in attempt to mislead the public

  39. The number of students taking the AP test is a very important number. Why would we pay tax dollars for kids to sit in the class and not take the test? These classes cost more to run than average classes since the teacher who teach them are smarter than the average teacher.

    If you counted just the number of classes, not the number of kids who pass the test, that would artificially inflate the academic excellence of the school. If lots of kids take the AP class, but no one passes the test, it’s a bad reflection on the school.

  40. 12:38 — I’m not a BOE hack whatever that is
    7:46 — the number of kids taking the AP tests is AN interesting number, but it should not be the single factor in a purported ranking of America’s “top” schools. That’s all I’m sayin. The Newsweek list is misleading and overblown in its importance. AP tests are important, but there is more to school quality than AP tests.

  41. 10:31 PM said, “AP tests are important, but there is more to school quality than AP tests.”

    Like what? Your SAT? Your GPA?

    Both of which would correlate to one’s AP test results, wouldn’t they?

    What standard of measurement would YOU use?

  42. To Maroon Pride –

    You asked: “where does 40% come from because its top 1300 in the US. Please educate me on which type of math you are using so I can reconfigure and respond.”

    I know this thread is getting long in the tooth, but just to close the loop on this…

    The article stated in 2008, Ridgewood ranked 531 out of 1,355

    I stated: “We are a little better than “average” in an “above average class” (top schools)… “

    1355 is the total amount in the set (collection of “top schools”)
    531 is our ordinal position in that well-ordered set

    To find in what percentage of the collection we belong, divide as follows: position/total

    531/1355 = 39.188…%

    Since we have crossed the 39th percentile threshold, the closest whole percentage that Ridgewood belongs to is 40%. (Note: Ridgewood also belongs to the top 50%, top 75%, bottom 75%, etc.)
    Also, it’s not appropriate to round in this case since you are calculating to find the percentage to which the ordinal belongs.


    In the “top schools” set (also referred to as group, collection or class) Ridgewood was amongst the top 40% of all ordinals in the set.
    I referred to the “top schools” set as an “above average class” (since by definition, the top schools are above the “average” schools and I used the term “class” rather than set).
    50% is the midpoint and is considered “average” in this case since we are discussing percentages (i.e. per centum… per 100).
    40% is slightly above the average point (50%) and I referred to 40% as “a little better than average”.


    I arrived at:
    “We are a little better than “average” in an “above average class” (top schools)… “

    I hope this clears things up.

    BTW, what math were you using?

  43. 11:22 — show-off! 😉

  44. 11:22 can you teach middle shool or HS? Ridgewood needs you.

  45. Could we be just above average in an above average set for a little less money? Like, say, 65 million rather than 82 million?

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