New Jersey high schools rank among nation’s best

More than 80 public high schools statewide, including three in the 18th Legislative District, are regarded among the Top 10 percent nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings.

The publication ranked Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison the state’s top public high school and 23rd best in the country.

John P. Stevens High School, also in Edison, and Metuchen High School ranked No. 29 and No. 51, respectively, in New Jersey.

“We are extremely proud of all the schools in our legislative district and especially impressed to see three of our public high schools ranked among the best in the country and state,” Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, who represent the 18th Legislative District, said in a joint statement.

“Their performance reflects the commitment and skill of our educators, as well as the dedication of our students.”

U.S. News & World Report’s methodology included college readiness (30 percent), reading and math proficiency (20 percent), reading and math performance (20 percent), underserved student performance (10 percent), college curriculum breadth (10 percent) and graduation rates (10 percent).

College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. Underserved student performance focuses on students from Black, Hispanic, and low-income households.

For the first time in the history of its rankings, U.S. News & World Report incorporated science proficiency and performance into the methodology for states where science assessment data was available.

New Jersey high school students are assessed in math, English language arts and science through the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments. High school students are required to study a world language as well as visual and performing arts to graduate, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

The publication ranked 356 of the more than 400 New Jersey public high schools it reviewed and compared them with more than 17,000 others across the country.

Public schools in New Jersey’s 18th Legislative District are slated to receive more than $120.2 million in direct aid under Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed state budget.

Murphy announced details of his school funding plan for FY2023 during a press conference last month at James Monroe Elementary School in Edison.

Lawmakers have until July 1 to approve Murphy’s $48.9 billion state budget, which includes a record $9.9 billion investment in direct aid to public education for New Jersey’s nearly 700 school districts.

Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley congratulated the governor for making the education of New Jersey’s children a top priority.

“Still reeling from the pandemic’s impact on learning and social and emotional wellbeing, our students and the dedicated educators who serve them need our support now more than ever,” Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley said in a joint statement.

“We must ensure students are receiving the best possible education and are learning in safe environments. Our legislative district’s schools will benefit from investments in infrastructure, improved facilities, school construction and renovation, preschool expansion, special education, and much more.”

The 18th Legislative District encompasses East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta (students attend Spotswood Public Schools), Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield, and South River.

Under Murphy’s proposed budget, municipalities within the 18th Legislative District are projected to receive a combined $24.57 million increase from FY2022 in direct aid for public schools.

Under the proposed FY2023 budget, school districts by town will receive:

  • East Brunswick $33.324 million (a $7.432 million increase over the last year)
  • Edison $47.595 million (an $11.756 million increase over the last year)
  • Highland Park $4.780 million (a $356,919 increase over the last year)
  • Metuchen $2.492 million (a $453,303 increase over the last year)
  • South Plainfield $9.902 million (a $1.446 million increase over the last year)
  • South River $22.111 million (a $3.130 million over the last year)

In addition, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, whose East Brunswick campus is part of the 18th Legislative District, are budgeted to receive $17.422 million in direct state aid for education.

“Things like this don’t get done by me alone,” Murphy said during his press conference, singling out lawmakers from the 18th Legislative District and others, who he called extraordinary partners and colleagues. “To do this, as they say, it takes a village.”

Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley noted educators and students will gain from other elements of Murphy’s proposed budget, which includes investments in transportation and a full payment into the state’s pension system.

“We know that schools account for more than half of the average property tax bill in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “By adequately funding our public schools, we are allowing towns to maintain high-quality educational programs without passing the additional cost on to property taxpayers.”

Angelica Allen-McMillan, the state’s acting commissioner of education said, “This funding is critical to help increase opportunities for all students, especially as we emerge from the global pandemic.”

“Nothing is more important than investing in the education of our children,” Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley said in a joint statement. “It is no coincidence that New Jersey has the best public schools in the nation.”

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