SUMMIT, NJ - It may be summer break, but the Summit Board of Education continues to work through the season, hearing four presentations at their July 12 meeting. The Board also made a second reference to future school calendars with a pre-Labor Day first day of school.

The Class of 2018--What’s Next?

The Summit High School Guidance Department gave a detailed report on post-graduation plans for the Class of 2018. The presentation was given by Director of School Counseling Laura Kaplan, who is out on maternity leave until January, and Amy Herber, interim director of school counseling. Preparation was done by Allison Grill, college counselor.

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Highlights included:  

  • There were 306 graduating seniors; 91.5 percent will be pursuing either a two-year or four-year college degree. Of them, 250 will be attending four-year institutions, with 132 of those attending private, out-of-state schools. Thirty-three will be attending public, in-state four-year colleges.

  • Of the 250 attending four-year schools, 176 are white; 12 are African-American; 17 are Asian; and 23 are Hispanic.  

  • Thirty students will be attending public in-state, two-year colleges. Three of them are white; four are African-American; three are Asian; and 20 are Hispanic.

  • The class submitted 1882 college applications. In order, the top schools Summit students applied to are Rutgers, Union County College, University of Delaware, University of Michigan, Fordham, Montclair State, Indiana University, Penn State, University of Miami, Washington University in St. Louis, Miami University in Oxford, Loyola, University of Maryland, Syracuse, Villanova, Kean University, Tulane, Boston College, TCNJ, University of Richmond, Vanderbilt, and Cornell.  

  • In addition to attending traditional colleges, Summit students are taking gap years, entering the military, attending music conservatories and art/design schools.  

  • Among the remaining students, six students will be joining the workforce; two will be taking another year at Summit High School

  • There were 703 applications to schools considered “Most Competitive” by Barron’s. Of those, there were 243 acceptances by 118 unique students. Of those students, 101 will attend.  

  • There were 101 “Early-Decision” applications, including 13 ED II, totaling 92 students who applied Early Decision; 64 of them were accepted.  

  • Overall, the number of applications was down, but there were 25 fewer students this year than last.

Kaplan said that the large, public universities are more popular than ever. “They want the rah-rah and the school spirit,” she said.

Applications to out-of-state private schools are “tapering off,” she said.

She said there has been an uptick to schools that do not require supplemental essays, like Washington University in St. Louis, Miami (OH), the University of Miami, and Fordham, and schools that do not require standardized test scores.

Eleven students were accepted to Ivy League schools and all are going, including an architecture student who is taking a gap year as required by his Harvard acceptance. Every Ivy League school will have at least one 2018 Summit grad, with the exception of Yale and Brown.

Sixteen students were accepted into “Most Competitive” colleges, but are not attending, she said. Perhaps, she noted, this is because of better financial packages.

On Early Decision, Herber said that nationally, the admittance rate is about 10 percent higher than the regular decision rate. However, she said, early decision is not right for every student since the decision is binding and the financials must often be considered. She said that she cautions students on applying ED.

The two-year Union County Honors Program is gaining momentum, she said.  

She said that there was an increase in gap years, due, possibly, in part to the presentation on gap year opportunities that was given to students last year. Students doing gap years are seeking opportunities in such varied fields as science research, art, architecture, volunteering, and SCUBA.

Overlook--by the numbers, the class of 2018 outperformed the Class of 2017. The average GPA grew slightly to 3.664 from 3.641. The average SAT climbed to 1213 from 1184. The average ACT rose from 27 to 28.

Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB)

Superintendent of Schools June Chang gave the twice-annual report on Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying, as required by the State of New Jersey. The time period was for January 1 through June 30, 2018. The report details any incidents of violence, vandalism, weapons, substance abuse, etc. in the schools.  

As in past reporting periods, the highest number of incidents were in Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS), with 28 cases investigated and 14 of them confirmed. This is up from the same time period last year, when there was 23 cases investigated and nine confirmed.

Most of these cases were believed to be for conflicts that began outside of the school buildings, such as on social media, but became a school-day distraction.  

The school is required to report how it will remediate any confirmed case. Examples of remediation include parent contact, suspension, sensitivity training, mediation, etc.

Programs the schools have in place to education on HIB include Advisory, assemblies, Take a Stand, classroom lessons, school climate meetings, and parent programs.

Board member Mike Colon remarked that there were more cases at LCJSMS than at all other schools combined. He asked if it was the sixth graders who were acting up, or if the misbehavior peaked in the eighth grade. Kaplan said that while they know that the behavior “tapers off” in high school, she did not know in which middle school grade the problem occurred mostly, but will monitor it for the next reporting period and will include the results in the summary.

There was one case investigated at Wilson Primary Center, but it was not confirmed.

Update on Board Goals

In February, Chang gave a mid-year review on the annual Board goals and, at the meeting, gave his end-of-year report.

Under Focus Area I, Goal 1 was to show academic growth, and have students improve performance in English Language Arts and Math, as measured by IXL. Specifically, for Grade 5, the goal was to show 85 percent proficiency, with a minimum of 10 of the 15 focus skills. For Grade 6, the goal was to show 80 percent proficiency, with a minimum of 8 of the 15 focus skills. Both of these goals were met.

Goal 2 fell under Focus Areas 1 and 2.  “A positive school climate enhances academic achievement, provides effective risk prevention efforts, and supports positive youth development.

Therefore, the District will make meaningful progress towards increasing school climate informed by a survey administered to all 3rd, 6th, and 11th grade students focusing on six major domains: Teaching and Learning, Physical Environment, Safety, Parental Support, Student Relationships and Morale in the School Community.”  

The survey results showed an average scores of 76.7 for all aspects except Parental Support, for which it received a 91. The lowest grade was for Emotional Environment and Student Relationships, for which it received 72 and 72.7.    

Goal 3 seeks to enhance college and career readiness opportunities. “An increased number of 11th and 12th grade students will complete the appropriate acceptance requirements / assessment to achieve their individual post secondary goal such as ACT, SAT, Accuplacer, and/or ASVAB, or equivalent.”

Chang said that multiple sessions with college counselor / guidance counselor, conversations about options, and preparing for more than one path after graduation helped to satisfy this goal.

Goal 4 focused on adding the additional pillar of Community Service and Leadership to the existing Academics, Arts & Athletics pillars.

The recommendation is that all clubs and activities at Summit High School complete a minimum of one community-service activity per school year, such as a food or clothing drive. It is still to be determined if this will apply to sports teams, Chang said, since so many athletes are involved with other clubs and activities,this requirement might be satisfied there.

“We will have to look at that further,” he said.

School in August?

In her Education Committee report, Chair Vanessa Primack said that the committee investigated beginning the school year before Labor Day, beginning with the 2019-20 calendar.

It’s still under discussion, she said, but it would be a significant change from previous years. “It’s time for reflective dialogue, feedback, and thought,” she said.

She said that beginning school in August would allow September to be better utilized.  

Since the spring testing cycle is “pretty robust,” students would benefit as they would have an opportunity to get more of the course load done before the spring testing.  

In the past few years, snowy winters required a “giving back” of several snow days, and these were taken from spring break. Starting class in August would ensure that “spring break was not used for snow emergencies.”

At the April Board meeting, Chang said that that starting early gives teachers and students more time to be ready for Advanced Placement (AP) class testing, which is the same day across the country. Districts that start in August have more days of teaching before the tests. “It puts us on par with everyone in the country,” he said.

Primack also reported that they were looking at moving the third-grade CogAT testing to earlier in the school year.

Chang said that a letter will be going home soon announcing a date change for both LCJSMS and Summit High School graduation ceremonies. The high school will move from Thursday to Wednesday, June 19; LCJSMS will now be on June 18.