FLHS Slips in Newsweek's Latest 'America's Best High Schools' Rankings
Fair Lawn High School ranked 649th nationally in Newsweek's 2012 list of "America's Best High Schools."
Newsweek's list, released Monday, ranks Fair Lawn 649th in the country and 52nd in the state, among public high schools. That's a dropoff from last year, when Newsweek ranked Fair Lawn 400th in the nation and 33rd in New Jersey.
Superintendent Bruce Watson said part of Fair Lawn's decline in rank is due to Newsweek including more charter and magnet school in its rankings this year.
"It kind of skews things," he said. "It's like our Bergen Academies. It's not really a public school....because it's not really open to all kids."
Bergen County Academies ranked 21st in the nation in this year's Newsweek rankings, which include 1,000 public (open enrollment, selective, charter, magnet and lottery admission) schools from across the country. Last year's list counted only 500 schools.
Based on the rankings of other local schools, a dramatic shift in rankings from one year to the next is not unusual. Ridgewood dropped from 111 last year to 273 this year and River Dell dropped from 298 last year to 710 this year. Tenafly (198), Glen Rock (287), Fort Lee (590), Mahwah (632), Wayne Hills (703) and Paramus (742) -- all unranked last year -- made this year's list.
Watson said he was proud at how far Fair Lawn had come since 2006 when it was first named a top school by Newsweek. He said that at the time Fair Lawn entered the ranks, it came in at about 1,120 of 1,200 schools.
"Fair Lawn High School is in the top 2.5 percent of high schools in the nation, so that’s huge," Watson said, noting that Fair Lawn also ranked first in the county among comparable district factor group (DFG) schools. "There’s a lot good about where we are in this, and I don’t want to downplay that at all."
Newsweek's "America's Best High Schools," list is generated based on six components provided by school administrators, which Watson called the "fairest criteria in measuring schools" out of any of the high school rankings lists he's seen. To even be considered for the list, a school must complete a survey requesting data from the 2010-2011 academic year. This year, Newsweek reported that it assessed surveys from more than 2,300 schools. About 43 percent of those "applicants" made the top 1,000 school list.
Each school is judged on its graduation rate (25 percent), college matriculation rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent), and AP courses offered per student (5 percent). The data provided by schools is then standardized so schools can be judged against one another based on their relative performance.
Comparison of Fair Lawn High School's 2011 and 2012 Scores:
|College matriculation rate||93%||96%|
|AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student||1.2||0.4|
|Average SAT/ACT scores||1549||1585|
|Average AP/IB/AICE Scores
|Student/Teacher ratio||12||Not provided|
|Newsweek ranking||400 (out of 500)||649 (out of 1,000)|