Education

North Star Academy Ranked Top High School in Newark and 24th in New Jersey

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Students at North Star Academy College Prep at college signing day last year. North Star was top ranked high school in Newark. Credits: TAPintoNewark file photo
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Uncommon Schools' North Star Academy College Prep was ranked the best high school in Newark by U.S News and World Report, and the 24th best in New Jersey.

North Star, which accepts students through a universal enrollment system operated by the district, placed ahead of Science Park High School, a Newark magnet school that accepts students based on test scores, which was ranked 40.

In total, five Newark high schools were ranked in the top 85 in the state. In addition to North Star and Science Park, Arts High School came in at 74 , Technology High School was ranked 75, and University High School earned a 84th place ranking. U.S. News and World Report stopped ranking high schools after 85.

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With a 24th place ranking, North Star came in higher than high schools in wealthier suburban communities, such as Ridgewood (25), Ramapo in Bergen County (31), West Morris Mendham (33) and West Morris Central (39).

North Star's student population is 94 percent African American or Hispanic, and 87 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

“We are so proud of the hard work that our students, teachers and families put in every day and this ranking is the result of those efforts,” said Michael Mann, the head of school at Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy College Prep High School.  “Our ranking in New Jersey proves that students from Newark can and do compete at the highest academic levels in the state"

The U.S. News and World Report methodology is based on a four-step process that takes into account whether students are performing better than expected in their state on reading and math proficiency tests; whether its disadvantaged students perform better than state average; whether student graduation rates meet or exceed a national standard; 
whether students are prepared for college-level coursework.

Students at North Star ranked 57.1 on the U.S. News and World Report College Readiness Index. Of the 74 percent of the student body that took at least one AP course, 69 percent passed. And 73 percent of the students scored proficient in English language arts while 69 percent scored proficient in math on the PARCC test, according to the publication.

In comparison, nearby Millburn High School, which was ranked 13 in the state, had a College Readiness Index of 63.5. But only 46 percent of the students were proficient in math and 64 percent in English language arts, according to the publication.

Science Park received a 47.1 percent on the College Readiness Index, but like North Star, its students scored higher than Millburn on the PARRC test, with 74 percent proficient in math and 75 percent proficient in English.

Last year, 100 percent of North Star's 84 graduates attended college, including Ivy League universities, state schools and small private colleges throughout the country.

North Star Academy College Prep is part of Uncommon Schools, a charter management organization that started and manages 44 high performing urban charter schools in three states—New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. North Star Academy Charter School, which launched in Newark in 1997 with 72 5th graders, serves over 4,100 students in Newark in grades K through 12.

A North Star education is in such high demand in Newark that half of all families in the city listed North Star as one of their choices in the public school application process.

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