BHS up 33 spots in state rankings

Photo By Daniel Jackovino
From left, Bloomfield High School Principal Chris Jennings, Bloomfield Superintendent Sal Goncalves and Bloomfield Assistant Superintendent Joe Fleres stand together.

Based on data from the 2022-23 school year, Bloomfield High School has moved up in its standing among secondary schools, according to the NJ Department of Education.

“NJ high school rankings based on previously released performance report data were released this morning,” Superintendent Sal Goncalves announced April 25.

“Bloomfield High School has moved up 33 spots to 114 from last year’s ranking of 147. In the last two years, we have moved up nearly 100 spots and are ahead of many schools we have been trailing since the rankings started in 2019. It’s a great day to be a Bengal!”

Interviewed in Goncalves’s office last week with the superintendent and assistant superintendent Joe Fleres, BHS Principal Chris Jennings said a concerted effort produced these results.

“There’s been a lot of little things,” he said. “We have a freshman transition program, realizing it’s a year-long process, and other support programs. We’re seeing that freshmen don’t fall through the cracks. We have a 95 percent graduation rate.”

Fleres concurred.

“It’s educating the whole child,” he said. “No kid falls through the cracks. We want them happy at the high school. And if they’re happy, they’ll do well.”

According to the DOE report, BHS has a 95.1 percent four-year graduation rate and a 95.6 five-year graduation rate.

In the report, a school’s standing was based on factors including standardized test scores, student growth, chronic absenteeism, progress toward English language proficiency and graduation rate. The factors were given scores which, when added together, provided a summative score. The DOE cautioned that these final scores are not a way to directly rank schools, but to be used as an indication for needed improvement.

The standings were top-heavy with magnet schools with the first public school, Haddonfield Memorial High School, in twenty-fourth place. Livingston High School was
twenty-seventh and the top Essex County public school in the standing.

Regarding chronic absenteeism, which is missing school 10 percent of the time or 18 days a year, the DOE report shows 15.7 percent of BHS students are chronically absent. The state average was 18.1 percent Jennings said his school has been able to keep down chronic absenteeism by having a task force of teachers monitoring students with attendance problems. The causes for these problems, he said, included family economics, obligations and the lack of morning supervision. Fleres said a partnership between the school and a student’s home was critical as was the pupil-to-teacher contact time.

“It doesn’t take a lot for a kid to be absent,” Jennings added.

Prior to the pandemic, Jennings said his students were making progress on standardized tests.

“I don’t like to brag, but our school is nationally recognized,” he said.

Part of the high school success story is money, Fleres said, and this was because of Vicky Guo, the district business administrator.

Goncalves also credited the board of education with being a positive support and says test scores are not the end-all and be-all in education.

“The challenge in high school,” he said, “is with all the diversity, that the students all get the skills they need to succeed. Our top 100 students can go toe-to-toe with everyone in the county.”

“As we compare to other neighborhood schools,” Jennings said, “we’re the best of them. We’re considered a middle-wealth district. You have to compare apples to apples.”
According to the DOE, 39.1 percent of BHS students are considered economically disadvantaged.

Fleres said the high school will improve where it can and standard scores are not everything. But accolades, based on the latest results, are important to the entire district staff.

“I think our students are proud of their school,” too, Jennings said.

According to the report, for the 2022-23 school year, BHS had 2,034 full-time students. By percentages, 48.4 were Hispanic, 22.8 were Black or African American, 20.9 were white, 5.6 were Asian, 1.6 were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.4 were two or more races and 0.2 were American Indian or Alaska Native. According to the DOE, 5.3 percent were English learners, 13.7 percent had disabilities and the student-to-teacher ratio was 12:1.

“It’s important we address all the sub-groups, making sure everyone is on an equal plane,” Fleres said. “That’s the formula and our concerted effort over a long period of time. There’s no magic bullet.”

For the full report, go to: