LIVINGSTON, NJ — Based on district spending statistics and more than 580,000 opinions on food from 215,000 students and parents, Niche.com ranked Livingston School District Number 10 for Best Food in New Jersey out of 3868 school districts. According to the ranking and review site, the high ranking indicates that Livingston School District offers a variety of healthy, quality food options, accommodates various dietary preferences, and that students have rated the quality of food favorably.
“The Best Food ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the quality of the food at school districts in the United States and Puerto Rico,” Niche.com explained. “It uses data sourced from various government and public data sets, Niche’s own proprietary data, and 582,363 opinion-based survey responses about food from 216,990 current students, recent alumni and parents.”
Since Niche.com used both student and parent survey responses in order to construct a fair and reasonable ranking, Livingston’s result generally indicates that local students are extremely satisfied with the quality and variety of options. But Livingston School District expenses also suggest that the administration is invested in its students and genuinely “works to provide the best possible educational experience.”
Livingston Public Schools have approximately 5714 students attending nine schools in grades PK and K-12. According to National Center for Education Statistics about the Livingston Public Schools' annual budget, the district spends an average of $20,362 per student per year. This budget, paired with the Niche.com surveys, were the two carefully selected factors that represent what the site called a “healthy balance between statistical rigor and practical relevance” in the ranking.
“Factors built from parent- or student-submitted survey responses were individually analyzed to determine a required minimum number of responses,” the methodology said. “Factors built from factual information were inspected for bad data, including outliers or inaccurate values. Where applicable, this data was either adjusted or completely excluded depending on the specific data.”
Once these factors were processed, the Niche.com team produced and standardized scores for each district that evaluated the distance from the average. According to the methodology, using standard deviation to determine the average allowed each district’s score to be compared against others in a "statistically sound manner.” The factors were weighted: survey responses counted for 80 percent, while student expenses counted for 20 percent of the total.
“The goal of the weighting process was to ensure that no one factor could have a dramatic positive or negative impact on a particular district's final score and that each district's final score was a fair representation of the district's performance,” the methodology said.
The Niche.com methodology also stated that weights for each district were logically and fairly determined by analyzing how different weights impacted the distribution of ranked districts, as well as Niche parent and student user preferences and industry research.
“School districts missing the data for more than 50 percent of the factors did not qualify for the numerical ranking or a grade,” Niche explained. “Districts that did not have all of the factors were not included in the numerical ranking and received a grade only.”
Ultimately, only districts that had all of the factors were deemed eligible for both a grade and a numerical ranking. The ranking used grades to provide readers with further context and insight. Niche.com encourages readers to focus on the grade rather than the district’s number in the ranking because there may not have been a large gap between, for example, the district at Number 15 and the district at Number 30. According to the methodology, both of these districts are considered exceptional in comparison to the total population of schools nationwide.
Niche.com ranks Livingston School District with a grade of ‘A+’ overall. The site has also previously graded Livingston individually in academics, administration, educational outcomes, extracurricular activities, health and safety, resources and facilities, sports, diversity and teachers, which can be found here.