Summit High School Earns Very High Ratings in New Jersey Performance Reports

Commendations recipients are shown at Thursday's Summit Board of Education meeting. Credits: Judith McCarthy
Student inventors who won SITE Awards are congratulated. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Summit school staffers are applauded for showing the way in going from "Good to Great." Credits: Bob Faszczewski

SUMMIT, NJ—Students at Summit High School do very well against their peers, against students in neighboring districts, and in the state as a whole, according to the recently released 2012-2013 New Jersey Department of Education performance reports.

Statistics found in the reports were broken down at Thursday's board of education meeting by board communications chairwoman Katherine Kalin.

The reports, issued the last two years, “enable districts to measure their progress year-to-year,” Kalin said.

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Every school in the state, she explained, is grouped with 30 schools considered its “peers” because they have the same grade configuration — in Summit's case ninth to 12th grades—,and have similar demographics.

The communications chairwoman added that schools are measured according to academic achievement, readiness of its students for colleges and careers and success rates of graduation and preparation for post-secondary education life.

Parameters also used to group students are those eligible for free or reduced lunches, those with limited ability to speak English and special education students. Student measurements may also include combinations of these categories.

Kalin noted that Summit High School's peer group members come from 14 different counties.  The only other Union County school in its group is David Brearley High School in Kenilworth.

In academic achievement, measured by scores on the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), Summit students scored better than 89 percent of the students in their peer group.  Measured against students statewide, those in Summit did better than 74 percent of students.

In college and career readiness, measured by advanced placement test scores and scores on the American College Test, Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Aptitude Test, Kalin noted that Hilltopper students topped 88 percent of students in their peer group.

In the graduation and post-secondary measurement category Summit ranked in the 78th percentile among peers — meaning its students did better than 78 percent of their peers.

She added that Summit High School students consistently scored in the top five schools in their peer group and, relative to all public high school students statewide, Summit ranked high or very high.

A different peer group, which includes students from communities bordering Summit, such as the Chathams, Millburn and New Providence, most of the districts ranked very high, with only Chatham High School students fairly far ahead of their peers.

Summit's scores were comparable to those of these high-ranking schools although they were in a different peer group, Kalin said.

In the socio-economic rankings, Summit had a much higher percentage (14.4 percent) of students eligible for free and reduced lunches compared to other schools in its peer group, a slightly higher percentage—at 1.5 percent—of students challenged in the English language, and a lower percentage (12 percent) of students in special education.

Among non-economically-disadvantaged communities, Summit scored at 93.2, slightly lower than Millburn's score of 94.8.

In the eollege and career readiness classification, Summit also did well compared to neighboring communities that were included in the peer group composed chiefly of high schools with very high ratings.  Although there were not as many “very high” ratings in the Summit peer group, Summit students still scored very high in that group, Kalin noted.

In student participation in the SAT and ACT tests Summit had a rate of 91 percent to rank third among its peers, while neighboring Millburn had a rate of 100 percent, the same as those in the top tier of its peer group.

The graduation and post secondary preparation category saw Summit with scores in the 78th percentile, while Millburn ranked in the 77th percentile.

Overall, Kalin said, Summit students achieved a very high rating in the school's peer group and a high level statewide.

During public comment following the presentation, resident Kristen Pierotti said the data showed that Summit students were doing very well when matched up against other districts to whom its students often are compared.

She added, however, that she would like to see more statistics measuring achievements among more economically advantaged students.

In other actions at the meeting, superintendent of schools Nathan Parker announced that the Union County executive superintendent of schools on Thursday approved the district's proposed 2014-2015 budget. The Summit Board of School Estimate is scheduled to vote on the budget on Tuesday.

Parker also said he would recommend approval of block scheduling, which will extend periods in the high school from 43 to 58 minutes.

He commended high school principal Paul Sears for running two piloting programs for the new scheduling system, visiting a number of districts with block scheduling already in place with his staff members, and getting input from parents, students and staff members prior to recommending institution of the block system.

A number of commendations were announced by board education chairman Ed Mokuvos at Thursday's session, including:

  • Praise for board president Gloria Ron-Fornes, Mayor Ellen Dickson, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Julie Glazer and district communications coordinator Karen Greco for organizing “Full STEAM Ahead,” a Saturday seminar to encourage young women to become more involved in science, technology, engineering, architecture and mathematics.

  • Congratulations to high school forensics team members for winning spots in the national forensics competition, and to their coach, Anne Poyner, for being named coach of the year.

  • Praise for the cast of the high school production of 42nd Street, directed by Poyner.

  • Commendations to the organizers of the Sankofa Festival, which raised funds for the city's African-American Action Organization.

  • Honors for the high school varsity boys basketball team, and Coach Jim Davidson, for coming in second in the state tournament.

  • Football coach Kevin Kostibos for winning the state championship and being named coach of the year by the state football coaches' association, both in his first year as head coach.

The evening also saw the announcement of third-to-fifth-grade student inventors who won the districtwide SITE awards, and a presentation by Washington School Principal Lauren Banker and Jefferson School Principal Ron Poles and their team members of a staff development program based on the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

The board also approved withdrawal of $1,836,120 in capital reserve funds for school renovation projects, including $100,163 for security upgrades at the middle school with a local share of $60,098; award of a $54,000 contract to Savic Construction Corporation for asbestos removal in connection with science lab renovations and auditorium work at the middle school, and $4,432,800 to Ingrassic Construction Company, Inc. for auditorium, science labs and security work at the middle school.


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