Fort Lee school officials Monday addressed concerns about Fort Lee High School’s drop in rankings in New Jersey Monthly’s biennial report released last week.
According to the report, the local high school , based on data for the 2010-2011 school year.
“Of course it’s always a big concern to us when we drop in ranking and of course to the community as well,” said Assistant Superintendent Sharon Amato at Monday’s Fort Lee Board of Education meeting. “This is certainly a conversation worth having with parents, students and our administrative team.”
Amato said a major factor contributing to the drop in rankings was the fact that Fort Lee opened up its advanced placement classes to all students last year for the first time.
“Do we open up the advanced placement classes and give all students opportunities to learn and to maybe not score high on the AP test but get something out of it, or do we limit it and have stringent criteria, as we had in the past?” she said.
Another factor was that the state now looks at dropout rates differently, according to Amato.
“If a student decided in the middle of the senior year to go back to a foreign country—we’ve had a number of students do this—they’re counted in our dropout rates,” she explained. “Therefore the dropout rates were slightly higher.”
In addition, Amato said, the state changed how it rated schools based on the number of students attending four-year colleges versus those attending two-year colleges.
“These are certainly some of the reasons that could have changed our ranking,” she said. “As our test data comes available to us in [NJ SMART], which is a great tool that shows us comparisons of individual students, as well as those students from year-to-year, we’ll better be able to wrap our heads around why we dropped in ranking.”
The data upon which New Jersey Monthly’s rankings are based comes from the state Department of Education’s most recent New Jersey School Report Card, according to the publication.
But school board president Yusang Park said there are areas in which he would like to see Fort Lee students improve.
“We have to work on the average combined SAT score,” Park said. “And we can definitely improve on the HSPE Math.”
Park said those are examples of areas school officials can focus on when the board holds its upcoming, annual goal-setting session, but he also agreed with board vice president Linda McCue, who said she’d prefer to see more students given the opportunity to take advanced placement classes than to be overly concerned about rankings.
Check back with Patch for more on Monday's BOE meeting.