River Dell Regional Falls 77 Spots in Top High School List

According to New Jersey Monthly’s biennial report, River Dell High School dropped from 27 to 104 in the state, based on a formula compiled using Department of Education data for the 2010-2011 school year.

River Dell Regional High School was listed in the top 100 schools in the state of New Jersey in 2010. But according to the New Jersey Monthly’s biennial report released recently, River Dell dropped 77 positions from 27 to 104 in 2011.

The rankings are based on recently released data set by the Department of Education's New Jersey School Report Card. The report shows data for 328 public schools in the state. 

Categories and indicators used in the rankings include:

School Environment: The sum of the standardized rank scores for average class size, the student/faculty ratio, percentage of faculty with advanced degrees, and the number of AP tests offered, which was calculated using a ratio of grade 11 and 12 enrollment in order not to penalize smaller schools.  

According to the report, RDHS had 219.5 students enrolled, the average class size was 24.9, and student/faculty ratio was 12.5.

Student Performance: The sum of the standardized rank scores for average combined SAT score, the percentage of students showing advanced proficiency on HSPA, and students scoring a 3 or higher on AP tests as a percentage of all juniors and seniors.

Percentage of RDHS faculty with masters or doctorate degrees - 76.2, average combined SAT score - 1591, and number of AP classes offered - 18.

Student Outcomes: A single score based on a new four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate introduced by New Jersey in 2011, as mandated by the federal government.

The adjusted cohort formula divides a school’s number of four-year graduates by the number of first-time ninth-graders who entered the cohort four years earlier. 

The cohort graduation rate for RDHS was 93.25.

For more DOE report card information, click here. To see the entire list of public high school rankings by New Jersey Monthly, click here.

Concerned Citizen August 29, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Ms Hubbard.....while an informal poll might be good, it can be a bad thing too. If the objectives of the research are not clear, and the questions are not clearly worded, such a poll can do more damage than good. I think it would be best to send all these comments to the administrators of RD and invite them to comment openly....on "paper," As a reporter, you can go to Fletcher and Brooks....ASK THEM what they think of the new school ranking, ask them for their opinion as to the reason behind the drop. That would be a great service to the community this "publication" serves. And if "no comment" or "tell them to come to a board meeting to ask the questions" is the only answer you get, then that speaks volumes too and we should know that. Please consider this. Don't just cut and paste press releases. We are asking for you to dig for some answers on the news you are reporting. Thanks.
GGT August 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Concerned: With all due respect what exactly do you think the administrators will say about the ranking change? I would think the rankings are only important when a school is ranked high, and do not matter when a school is ranked low, or drops dramatically. I feel for home buyers who bought this Spring based on how high RD was ranked 2 years ago vs. now. Talk about shock!
Concerned Citizen August 29, 2012 at 04:10 PM
All this talk about real estate prices is so off target for this discussion. I don't feel sorry for anyone who bought a home this spring. Unless they had the worst real estate agent on the planet they all got bought houses at very low prices relatively speaking. The schools in this area aren't terrible. But they can be better. That being said, what I would hope to hear from the same admins who waved the ranking flag when it was high is that they they looked in to the new numbers and found out what caused the drop or where the points didn't add up. Here's an interesting tidbit from the NJ Monthly article "New Jersey Monthly made two other changes in compiling this year’s rankings: Because personal computers have become widespread among the high-school population, we eliminated student/computer ratio as a factor." So....River Dell's past ranking could have been artificially high because the rankings counted the laptop program as special. But after eliminating that as an important factor, River Dell plummeted on all the other criteria. Could that be a further sign that the River Dell Laptop Emperor is butt naked? I want administrators at our HS to come clean and admit things aren't great and give us a plan to make it better. I want them to identify areas of weakness and have plans to fix them. Please don't bring real estate into this. When our kids are lagging behind others in lesser colleges, who gives a crap what someone paid for a house.
Concerned Citizen August 29, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I think we all want to see the money we're paying now spent more wisely. Could the $800K/year we are spending on a laptop program be put to better use? Probably. But the school is so closed minded about it and they administration gets no challenge from at least 5 of 9 board members. But more like 6 or 7 of 9.
NO TO TAX HIKE August 29, 2012 at 05:00 PM
If the Board members are not doing the right job, is there a way to throw them out? I do not know detailed breakdown of the lap top spending, but it may need to be scrutinized; but the question is how. Somebody said $1mil spending for the laptops. Is the amount reasonable at all? How can parents scrutinize the contracting process, to at least make sure that the it was in order and it was good value for money. It's a big amount it's prone to irregularities. On the quesions to the Adminsitrator, don't expect much. If the person knew the right answer, it could have been done already. The fact of the matter is that there was an outright failure, dropping by 77 places. Hold them accountable and get the new leadership is the way to go.
GGT August 29, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Concerned: Whether you think so or not. Real estate and the schools are inextricably linked. Surely you know that. Sure prices are down, due to the bursting of the real estate bubble, and low interest rates, and crushing property taxes in both towns. However what kept prices from falling further, was the supposed excellence of the schools. Many home buyers rely on the NJ Monthly School rankings, and check the HESPA scores and all the rest. In addition to or if they don't check those scources, they rely on word of mouth from family and friends. Any first time home buyer who was repeatedly told award winning schools, blue ribbon schools, excellent schools, ranked 27th best HS in the state of NJ, would assume OK, I am paying more in price and taxes because of the schools. I guarantee if you were the first time buyer and closed a month ago on a home in RE or Oradell, you would be shocked to see the drop. No one will be bragging we rank 104th. Now again how much weight should be given to these rankings, any of these rankings, and any of these so called awards is debateable. But the fact remains that in selling houses they are key. That is why prices did not fall as much in RE & Oradell as in some surrounding towns. In fact I dare say we now rank not far from or equal to towns that residents in both towns would find not as desireable, all based on the schools. So it does matter, because now we have two towns with crushing taxes, who can no longer brag about the schools.
GGT August 29, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Realtors will have to change there whole spiel about the schools, and how the schools justify the high taxes. Prospective buyers going forward will now also be able to see that towns that were so supposedly inferior to RE & Oradell in terms of their schools systems, have schools that are now ranked high above RD, or around the same. And for less money, and in many cases with substanially less taxes. Prices in both RE & Oradelll will have to continue to adjust downward. So in addition to the decline in the quality of the educational product, whether that is true or not, current owners in both towns now need to understand you can no longer use the schools as a selling point. They are no better or worse than many surrounding towns, so you can no longer claim the price premium.
TomW August 29, 2012 at 05:45 PM
You'll get no argument from me on who or where the culprit is. However, when you cut other sports or academic programs other than football or baseball, that seems pretty unfair and unbalanced. My point is to identify how lopsided decisions are made. My child plays on a varsity team, they deserve the same attention and funding as any activity in the school.
TomW August 29, 2012 at 05:55 PM
GGT - that is so true. That is why I moved into RE 13 years ago. Good schools and reasonable taxes. I now cannot say it was a bad decision but I am very disappointed and have seen the craziness of many of the residences of both towns. Reality is setting in.
lucky August 29, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I happen to be a parent in favor of the laptops - independent data proves that kids today learn better thru technology than they do from having a boring teacher in front of the room. Having said that, I wish that our RDBOE would insist on data showing that the RD students are doing better because of the laptops. Instead of just agreeing with the superintendent blindly, there should be data supporting the use. If the data isn't showing the improvement, then we are not using the technology to the degree we should be. Do the teachers get real-time data back from the students showing what they areas they know, or what areas of study they struggle with? Are the teachers creating their lesson plans based on this data? - RDBOE!!!! can you answer these questions? Please do not tell me our kids have laptops so they can learn how to use them. Admin at RD - how about you learn how to use the data the technology can provide?
TomW August 29, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I would be in favor of the laptops too if the curriculum/teachers structure lessons around the laptops. Some teachers do but not enough. I remember having to take a typing class on manual typewriters, but not just how to use the typewritter we also learned how to structure types of letters, resumes, reports, etc... A large majority of the kids don't know how to use MS Word to structure a letter or report. Don't know how to setup an MS Excel spreadsheet of data and formulas. but they all know how to send emails, text messages and surf the Internet. The curriculum needs to add class on how to use the laptops and the software provided. I was told the teachers structured their lessons to include the use of the laptops. A majority of the classes my child has had in the three years there, had minimum use of the laptop. It's more of a social toy. She has learned more from me than on the usage than from teachers.
Concerned Citizen August 29, 2012 at 06:52 PM
There should never be a boring teach in front of a class who can't out-teach a laptop. If they cant then fire them. Laptops should be used to augment class work. We all know teenagers are very distractable. They don't need the world wide web open on their desks during math.
Mike August 29, 2012 at 09:02 PM
The laptops are useful when used correctly. That's usually not the case. I find most of the students are either too weak-willed to use them correctly, or the teachers don't know or refuse to incorporate them into their lessons.
GGT August 30, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Tom: yes low rates and good schools were what made RE so special. But thanks to an out of control spending spree cheered on by elected officials, realtors, and a loud mouth group of residents who thought they knew it all, we are now where we are.
NO TO TAX HIKE August 30, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Hi TomW: You know what comes next. The schools will ask for the budget to put teachers in the IT training courses! Decline it and get more competent ones!
NO TO TAX HIKE August 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Hi GGT: I now see what you meant byj saying clueless people....
NO TO TAX HIKE August 30, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Tip to the Realtors: Easy access to GWB, rt 4 17, shopping centres, parks and only two /three stops by express train to NYC. These things will not change. Hope I'm not intiviting burglars........
Paul August 31, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Would have been nice to offer that organic chemistry class!
ling ling August 31, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I must disagree. The only electives left at RDHS are art electives. I was so sad when the board voted to eliminate the entire engineering program. Now our sons and daughters can only do ceramics, crafts and sculpture if they like working with their hands...not build things and have an introduction to engineering.
ling ling August 31, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I do, however, agree with your ideas on shared services.
ling ling August 31, 2012 at 04:05 PM
TomW you would be absolutely amazed with how many students participate in the football program...there are over 50 cheerleaders alone. Probobly over 120 football players. Please keep that in mind when you reason budgets for each sport.
NO TO TAX HIKE August 31, 2012 at 04:39 PM
There seems to be a good number of supporters for shared services. Take one step further and merge small towns and boroughs and reduce administrative spending! In this internet age, we don't need that many libraries,either, convert them to internet cafe or French crepe house!
ED September 02, 2012 at 05:36 PM
i disagree about the laptops.. the laptops are a marketing tool by the administration to the parents, nothing more nothing less, the students are not learning how to make websites, JCL C+++ etc, they are simply using them for word and excel. BIG WHOOP. if anything the technology is a distraction, bring a usb drive and lets watch a movie on it while the teacher speaks. Blame the superintendent, its his policies that caused this drop.
NO TO TAX HIKE September 04, 2012 at 01:32 AM
ED. I do not know what kids are doing with the laptops, but it's definitely a costly investment and if the teaching program is not properly aligned; then, it can be wasted. If it's just word and excel that they are teaching and using, the laptops can be shared at the school and it's not necessary to give one to each and every student. Again, I am afraid the school will come back to the BOE and parents to say, they get serious about training "teachers" to make the best use of it and for that, they are going to need a large amount of training budget!! it's going to be endless unless the schools get a new leadership with clear vision about the "content" of educational program and how IT should be integrated. I see that younger generations have better skills, training and vision these days, and RE/RD should be able to hire talented young leaders for a fraction of the cost for their pay.
lucky September 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Just channel surfing this weekend and came upon the RDHS graduation reply on town channel. Happened to hear the speech our current RDHS BOE Pres gave to the graduates. Included a line about not being afraid to risk looking foolish by asking a question, that feeling of foolishness would only last 5 minutes. Then he said "He who never asks a question, remains a fool forever". Well Mr. BOE Pres, why don't you start asking some questions of your RD administration!
River Edge 06 September 05, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Pay for what you use? If we used that model on a total household basis for River Dell, I'm sure people with no children would love to pay zero into the school system....and saying they benefit from a stellar HS is now moot. No, although consumption taxes seem more fair, there would never be another capital improvement. New athletic equipment? ...No, my kid is not on a team, so I don't use it. New computer lab? No, my kid is a senior and won't use it. That logic is a slippery slope. Instead of the towns fighting each other, they should be fighting Trenton to recieve a fair share of the funding and looking at what the administrators are getting paid. If they really did get pay raises when River Dell was ranked high, pay cuts are now due.
Concerned Citizen September 05, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Sorry Lucky, you're going to have to speak your questions to BOE Pres a bit louder. Aside from his graduation speech message wreaking of "do as I say not as I do," he and the "majority"of the BOE (yes, read into "majority" as you may, and you'll probably get my drift) have their collective head so far up the administrations nether parts that they can't possibly hear you, nor are they able to see the light.
GGT September 06, 2012 at 01:25 PM
The BOE Members, do not like to be questioned, whether RD, or River Edge elementary. They will tell you they want residents input, but they really don't. They know best, and the residents should do as instructed by the BOE; including voting YES!!!! for any and all school spending referendums.
Linda Lee September 07, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Does anybody remember the BOE member who requested info on the total cost of the laptop program (staff, etc)? He continued asking for three years & received nothing. Concerned Citizen, if you were able to obtain all of the figures, you would find that the total expenses surpass $1,000,000/yr. Ed, you are so right! Within 2 yrs. of the original laptop distribution, survey results from teachers & students showed that the majority of both groups believed that the laptops were a distraction and did not improve academic performance.
GGT September 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Linda: Also no one seems to question the insurance cost per laptop per year. It costs less to insure a college dorm room.


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