LIVINGSTON, NJ — When Newsweek released its 2015 list of America’s Top 500 High Schools this week, many of the Livingston school district’s parents, students and administrators were surprised to see that Livingston High School was not on it.
Having ranked No. 9 in the state of New Jersey for Newsweek’s 2014 issue of the bi-annual list, LHS is traditionally classified as one of the top high schools in the nation. Some Livingston Lancer parents like Jean King took to the “Livingston (New Jersey) Moms” Facebook page to find that many other parents were feeling the same sense of shock.
“How reliable is this study released by Newsweek?” Kang posted. “Livingston is not in the Top 500 but Montville, Whippany, Bridgewater, Randolph and many others are on the list.”
Newsweek ranked 56 New Jersey high schools among its Top 500, including Millburn High School, Union County Tech, Summit Senior High School, West Essex High School and other high schools in the area. In the midst of the confusion, some residents responded that perhaps the township did not participate in the study and therefore Newsweek would have no data on them in order to include in the ranking.
Livingston Public Schools Communications Director Marilyn Lehren responded to the Facebook inquiries on behalf of the school district.
“Livingston Public Schools is disappointed that Newsweek did not have the appropriate data from Livingston High School to include LHS in their annual listing of America’s Top High Schools,” said Lehren. “Unfortunately we have no record of receiving the request for data that Newsweek indicates was sent to the district.”
Published bi-annually for more than a decade, the Newsweek high school rankings recognize the achievements of the best public high schools in the United States according to college readiness. In collaboration with research partner Westat, Newsweek presented an “absolute” list evaluating schools on a broad range of criteria in order to “identify schools that excel at preparing students for college and overcome the obstacles posed by socioeconomic inequality.”
Of the high schools included in the published list, all of them boasted graduation rates above 98 percent with 95 percent of students being college-bound. The other statistics measured included student retention, SAT & ACT scores and counselor-student ratio.
“We are sorry we weren’t included in the research,” said Lehren. “We are confident our data would have placed us well among the top high schools in New Jersey and nation.”
Caldwell officials and James Caldwell High School administrators were also surprised not to be on the list, and said the Best High Schools list is incomplete without LHS and JCHS. James Caldwell High School administrators also released a statement that they too have no record of receiving the request for data and expressed the district’s disappointment that the two Essex County school systems were not included.
Ashley Milano, a Livingston High School Class of 2010 graduate who frequents the Livingston Public Schools system as a substitute teacher and teacher’s assistant, insisted that her alma matter deserved to be one of the top New Jersey schools on the list, if not one of the top in the nation.
“From being a previous LHS student and now being a TA in Livingston and student teaching in the area, I’ve seen the curriculum and test preparation in Livingston as compared to other schools and it just seems like there’s no comparison,” said Milano. “The amount of effort and support that the teachers provide along with the results that the students produce really do speak for themselves in the Livingston school district.”
To see the full rankings and read Newsweek’s methodology, click here.