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VHS Named To Best High Schools List


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There are more than 16,000 three and four-year high schools in America and Newsweek magazine has chosen to rank the top 500. Verona High School made the list, and made it in the top 300.

VHS is ranked 296 on the list and it is one of only two schools in Essex County and 36 schools in New Jersey to be included. Livingston is No. 106, but no other surrounding town high schools are on the list this year (Glen Ridge was on it last year, at No. 887,  when the methodology and list size were different).

Several of the New Jersey high schools that belong to the same district factor group as Verona are on the list. Berkeley Heights is 155 this year, Kinnelon is 182, Madison is 200 and Cresskill is 350.

The top-ranked school in the country is the School of Science and Engineering Magnet in Dallas. The top school in New Jersey, at No. 18, is Lincroft’s High Technology High School.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Makes you wonder if switching up the curriculum and getting rid of the honors program is really all that necessary…

  2. Virginia,

    Thank you for spotting and highlighting VHS’s inclusion in the Newsweek list of Best American High Schools.

    Verona’s ranking is certainly an admirable achievement. Yet, in looking at the data for the seven New Jersey schools that made the list, I was struck by the fact that Verona’s average SAT score of 1591 was not only the lowest among the schools, but fell far short of the scores posted by five of them.(The range for those five schools was 1639 to 1785.)

    I do not subscribe to the idea that SAT scores are–or even ought to be–the most-meaningful barometers of academic proficiency. But they are valuable indicators of a student’s understanding of important subject matter.

    In the past, the Verona Board of Education and veronanj.com, among others, have recognized that there is much room for improvement in the district’s SAT results. We have every right to be proud both of Verona High’s overall ranking in Newsweek’s nationwide competition and its fifth-place finish among high schools in the state. But the SAT statistics also should spur us, as a community, to identify the factors that are contributing to our less-than-stellar SAT scores, and to develop and implement a thoughtful strategy that addresses those underlying factors.

    Herb Lev

  3. It would be interesting to examine the difference in methodologies between the rankings process of NJ Monthly and Newsweek.

  4. Newsweek’s methodology:

    To compile the 2011 list of the top high schools in America, NEWSWEEK reached out to administrators, principals, guidance counselors, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate coordinators at more than 10,000 public high schools across the country. In order to be considered for our list, each school had to complete a survey requesting specific data from the 2009-2010 academic year. In total, more than 1,100 schools were assessed to produce the final list of the top 500 high schools.

    We ranked all respondents based on the following self-reported statistics, listed with their corresponding weight in our final calculation:
    Four-year, on-time graduation rate (25%): Based on the standards set forth by the National Governors Association, this is calculated by dividing the number of graduates in 2010 by the number of 9th graders 2006 plus transfers in minus transfers out. Unlike other formulas, this does not count students who took longer than four years to complete high school.
    Percent of 2010 graduates who enrolled immediately in college (25%): This metric excludes students who did not enroll due to lack of acceptance or gap year.
    AP/IB/AICE tests per graduate (25%): This metric is designed to measure the degree to which each school is challenging its students with college-level examinations. It consists of the total number of AP, IB, and AICE tests given in 2010, divided by the number of graduating seniors in order to normalize by school size. AP exams taken by students who also took an IB exam in the same subject area were subtracted from the total.
    Average SAT and/or ACT score (10%)
    Average AP/IB/AICE exam score (10%)
    AP/IB/AICE courses offered per graduate (5%): This metric assesses the depth of college-level curriculum offered.  The number of courses was divided by the number of graduates in order to normalize by school size.

    Data for each of these indicators were standardized using z-scores, in order to measure the relative performance of each school, and then weighted as indicated above to produce an overall NEWSWEEK score for each school.

    Our analysis excluded schools that had fewer than 10 graduates, as well as those that were newly founded and did not have a graduating senior class in 2010. All submissions were screened to ensure the data met several parameters of logic and consistency. Schools whose submissions did not meet these standards and/or appeared to have incorrect data were contacted directly for clarification. Those that did not respond with corrected data within the specified timeframe could not be considered in the ranking process.

    Source: http://www.newsweek.com/2011/06/20/best-american-high-schools-how-we-compiled-the-list.print.html


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