US News ranks CHS as No. 59 among NJ public high schools

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange–Maplewood School District announced that Columbia High School was ranked No. 59 as one the best public high schools in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report. 

This publication shared on April 26 that 406 New Jersey schools out of a total of 445 were ranked on six factors based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. The U.S. News rankings include data on nearly 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to traditional high schools, the rankings encompass charter, magnet and STEM-focused schools. Schools are ranked nationally and within each state. 

“In the midst of what we hope is a post-pandemic world, we understand that the recovery of our students, staff and communities from the social-emotional trauma of isolation is our No. 1 priority,” SOMSD Superintendent of Schools Ronald G. Taylor said. “We are pleased that Columbia is recognized in the top 13 percent of high schools in New Jersey and also note that CHS is among only two other public schools of its size to be ranked in the top 60 of this report. This is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our students, staff and families.”

Working with RTI International, a nonprofit research firm, U.S. News assessed schools on the following six factors: college readiness, based on the proportion of 12th-grade students who took and earned a qualifying score on at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam; state assessment proficiency, based on aggregated scores on state assessments that students may be required to pass for graduation; state assessment performance, based on whether performance on state assessments exceeded expectations given the school’s proportion of underserved students; underserved student performance, based on how black, Hispanic and low-income students performed on state assessments compared with those who are not underserved in the state; college curriculum breadth, based on proportions of 12th-grade students who took and earned a qualifying score on AP and/or IB exams in multiple content areas; and graduation rate, based on the proportion of students who entered ninth grade in the fall of 2016 and graduated four years later in the spring of 2021.

“We are very proud of our students who are rebounding quite well from (the COVID-19 pandemic),” CHS Principal Frank Sanchez said. “And we know they will continue to excel in the years to come.” 

This year, U.S. News adjusted its calculations to account for the cancellation of state testing in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because assessment data from the 2019-2020 year was not available, U.S. News incorporated mathematics and reading assessment results from the three previous years’ rankings instead. And, for the first time, assessment data includes most states’ science assessments. Per federal law, students take a state science assessment once between ninth and 12th grade. U.S. News used science assessment data from the 2018-2019 test year.