ELIZABETH, NJ - Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy was ranked among the top 50 most-challenging high schools in the nation by the Jay Mathews Challenge Index, the country's oldest high school ranking system. 

EHS – FJC, recognized as the most-challenging high school in the State of New Jersey, ranked No. 44 overall. 

Three other Elizabeth high schools, Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy (No. 991), Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy (No. 2,010), and John E. Dwyer Technology Academy (No. 2,478), also made the index. 

Sign Up for Elizabeth Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The Jay Mathews Challenge Index, beginning in 1998 in both Newsweek and The Washington Post, is the only list that does not rely on test scores. It compares private and public schools and ranks high schools, using a simple ratio of the number of advanced placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.  

The calculation of the index also includes equity and excellence percentage, which shows the percentage of all seniors who passed at least one AP, IB or Cambridge test at some point in their high school career, and lunch percentage, which indicates the percentage of all students who qualify for lunch subsidies.   

Schools ranked No. 220 or above represent the top one percent of America’s high schools. No. 440 or above are in the top two percent and every 220 schools thereafter represent an additional percent of the most challenging high schools throughout the country. EHS-FJC, Hamilton Preparatory Academy, Jefferson Arts Academy, and Dwyer Technology Academy all rank in the top 12 percent of America's 22,000 high schools. 

“Elizabeth Public Schools is guided by the principles of equity, expectations, and excellence,” said Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “It is great to see our schools recognized for being exceptional in upholding those principles while providing a rigorous and challenging education that prepares their students for college and career success.” 

“We believe that providing a high quality and rigorous education will give our students the best opportunity to succeed in their lives after leaving Elizabeth Public Schools,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Diane Barbosa. “Congratulations to the students and team members of Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, and John E. Dwyer Technology Academy for their outstanding efforts and dedication that has led to them receiving such an esteemed recognition.”