WESTFIELD, NJ – Members of the Westfield Board of Education addressed circulating reports of the district’s absence from a popular “Best High Schools” rankings on Tuesday night.
The district’s superintendent, Dr. Margaret Dolan, opened the discussion for the board, highlighting a change in criteria by U.S. News & World Report.
According to Dolan, the periodical’s methodology weighs the controversial PARCC Test results when determining a rank.
“The students in Westfield and their parents tend to focus on the future quite a bit and their focus tends to be on assessments that look toward the future, such as SATs, ACT scores, AP scores,” Dr. Dolan said. “If you find rankings that highlight those areas, you’re going to find Westfield near the top.”
Dolan also noted PARCC’s participation levels not only varied from district to district in its first two years, but the test itself wasn’t favored by some students.
“At best, the PARCC is a moving target. It’s an assessment that’s been politicized,” Dolan said. “[Students] were told to take it, so they took it. But they didn’t take it seriously.”
The board’s newest member, Michael Bielen, stressed the importance of examining educational growth in students and various noticeable developmental skills that had not been measured in the report.
“I think we just need to look at the school system as a whole, because that will also take into account the various intangibles of what they’re doing in the community and what they’re doing for extracurricular activities,” Bielen said.
Despite a two-year stretch away from “the list,” Westfield High School still boasts a 97 percent graduation rate and 49.9 college readiness score.
“I think the more information that we arm everyone with, including ourselves, then we all know how much significance to ascribe to it,” Gretchan Ohlig said.