For several weeks, residents have been outspoken about the disturbing news that in NJ Monthly's biennial report on the top 100 schools in the state. Since word got out that the Regional district went from being ranked 27th to 104th, Superintendent Patrick Fletcher has attempted to replicate the magazine's results. Unable to do so, he has not reached out to NJ Monthly several times for answers, but instead has gotten silence in return.
"I like everyone else am concerned about the drop in rankings," Fletcher said. "Taking time to look at the data associated, the administration and I came to the conclusion that there is something we don't understand about the methodology used to create the rankings. We've done some significatn analysis of the numbers, and using the magazine's data and formula, we can not replicate their number. We should be at least able to come close to what they did."
According to Fletcher, he has reached out to NJ Monthly for a full explanation of their methodology as it pertains to River Dell as the district also reached out to several neighboring districts what are also unable to replicate the magazine's results.
Part of Fletcher's analysis looked into the district's test performances for Language Arts: 63.7% of students score proficient on the High School Proficency Assessment and 30% register as advanced proficient in 2010-11. The prior year recorded students at 64% proficient and 29.3% advanced proficient.
He also looked at the scores for Mathematics: 50.6% proficient and 36.3% advanced proficient in 2010-11, while 53.7% proficient and 29.3% advanced proficient in 2009-10. Official results for the 2011-12 test scores will not be available until sometime in 2013.
"If we look at test performance, the number of students that scored advanced proficient in language arts and mathematics is lower in 2010 than in 2012," Fletcher said. "We have more students scoring advanced proficient in 2012 than we did in 2010."
New Jersey Monthly bases its results on the 2009 Class for the year 2010 and the 2011 Class for the year 2012. The magazine also looked at the district's SAT scores for 2009 (average 1643) and 2011 (1591), but Fletcher stated that the Class of 2012 recored an average score of 1643.
"There are changes in the methodology and it should impact us, but we can't replicate that significant a drop," Fletcher said. "Until NJ Monthly can explain the difference, I can't draw the same conclusion that River Dell is no longer a good school district because of the rankings. Unfortunately, it's not a good answer but I will continue trying to reach out and pursuing an explanation."
While Fletcher has so far not received any response from NJ Monthly, he hopes to get clarification from the magazine soon about the methodology and change in rankings.
Other District Factor Group I schools:School 2010 Ranking 2012 Ranking Tenafly 3 3 Park Ridge 18 14 Ramapo 19 17 Pascack Hills 7 18 Cresskill 55 29 Ramsey 33 30 Northern Valley Demarest 14 34 Indian Hills 35 43 Northern Valley Old Tappan 30 53 Mahwah 56 55 Pascack Valley 23 73