(CHS) is the 47th best public high school in the state, according to the recently-released ranking of 328 public high schools by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.
Columbia, which serves students in both South Orange and Maplewood, has advanced steadily up in the biennial ranking, climbing from #89 in 2008 to #75 in 2010, and now to 47th. The ranking chart is attached as a PDF to this article.
“The entire community should be proud of CHS’s movement up the rankings and the accomplishment of our students that the rankings represent,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian G. Osborne in a statement released by the district. “The steady improvement comes from the commitment and professionalism of SOMSD educators and staff, and the enthusiastic support that the SOMA community gives its public schools. CHS is a fantastic place to go to high school, and we will work tirelessly to make it even better for all of our students.”
Columbia was ranked in 6th place for schools in Essex County, behind Millburn (which dropped from #1 to #8 in the state ranking), Glen Ridge, N. Caldwell, Livingston and W. Caldwell. New Providence High School jumped into 1st place in the state ranking.
NJ Monthly made changes to its methodology this year, including a new graduation-rate calculation, eliminating student/computer ratio as a factor and increasing the weighting for data on test results. The emphasis on test scores was intended to acknowledge student gains despite large decreases in state aid, according to the article. (Under Governor Chris Christie, the South Orange-Maplewood school district has seen its share of school aid drop 37.7 percent.)
“CHS and district leaders have had a strategic commitment to excellence and equity over the past several years that is moving Columbia High School forward," said Board of Education President Beth Daugherty. "The Board of Education is grateful for the efforts of our teachers and staff and the support of the entire community.”
Columbia High School Principal Lovie Lilly said, “Over the past several years, we have been working on enhancing instruction, improving the ways we support and evaluate teaching, making curriculum more rigorous, and increasing access for students to our most challenging classes. While we know we still have work to do to make Columbia High School all it needs to be for every student, these rankings are further evidence that we are moving in the right direction. We have a great, hard-working staff at CHS, and I am confident that we will continue to improve.”
NJ Monthly Magazine’s 2012 rankings of the top public high schools will be featured in the September issue, which hits newsstands on Aug. 28.