SOMERVILLE, NJ – A national website that analyzes the quality of public and private schools, colleges and universities has ranked the Somerville School District No. 6 in Somerset County and No. 75 out of 243 school districts in New Jersey.
The faculty at the three schools was ranked No. 137 out of 377 in the state.
The study graded the school district’s overall performance in 6 categories:
Academics, A-; Teachers, A-; Clubs and Activities, A; Diversity, A-; College Prep, A+; Health and Safety, A-.
Three weeks ago, the Somerville school district was selected as one of nine school districts and two charter schools statewide for the Lighthouse District award, given annually by the NJ Department of Education for substantial improvement in academic achievement.
“Lighthouse Districts can serve as beacons of success for public education in New Jersey,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “We recognize Lighthouse Districts for tremendous academic gains, for demonstrating that all schools can excel and all students can achieve.”
Several initiatives and programs implemented by the Somerville school district were singled out for praise by the state BOE:
"Dr. Tim Teehan and the Board of Education in Somerville collaborated with the staff, students and community to set Vision 2020, which focuses on three strategic themes: building cultural competence; preparing for college and career; and growing professional development opportunities. Because each is important to student success, school climate and culture are critical areas the district leverages to meet its longterm vision for improved student outcomes.
"Somerville’s tag is #Allin4theVille. This means that everyone is all in for our students in every way, every day. The district accomplishes this through the purposeful empowerment of its staff and working as a team to achieve desired goals. One way Somerville staff are empowered is by being part of the personnel committee, which bears the responsibility to review, interview, and advance candidates through the hiring process for open positions. These participating individuals are selecting their future colleagues who will share the same beliefs of being #Allin4theVille. Additionally, Somerville staff are empowered to write curriculum, create Teacher Leader passion projects, join various committees, grow professionally by sharing with colleagues their expertise, and openly and honestly discuss ways to improve the district and offerings for students."
A total of 2,357 students are enrolled in the district at three schools: Somerville High School, grades 9-12; Somerville Middle School, grades 6-8 and Van Derveer Elementary School, Grades K-5.
The NJDOE launched the Lighthouse District initiative two years ago as a result of conversations with educators, families and students throughout the state, who felt there should be a greater focus on growth rather than proficiency alone.
"The Department of Education is always listening and watching what different districts are doing and monitoring students' progress," Teehan said.
"We're always getting visitors from other districts and the state to see what we are doing and how we're doing it," he added. "We popped up on their radar because they've been hearing about the stuff we're doing."
“The aim of the Lighthouse initiative is not to identify the districts with the highest test scores, but rather districts that have shown the greatest improvement,” said Kathy Goldenberg, president of the State Board of Education. “By doing so, we give these local educators a platform in which they can share their initiatives, programs and successes with school leaders in other communities.”
Somerville and the other 10 Lighthouse award winners demonstrated measurable progress across diverse groups of learners and used multiple measures to provide individualized support to students and school communities. The NJDOE evaluated four years of district and school-level data to identify districts with the greatest academic improvement. Lighthouse districts are representative of New Jersey’s diverse student body, including size of the district and region of the state.