Westfield High School’s NJDOE School Rating Doesn’t Tell the Full Story, District Says

Westfield High School was score 63.1 out of 100 in the NJDOE's school ratings, but Westfield school district officials say that the number doesn't tell the whole story. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio

WESTFIELD, NJ — In the New Jersey Department of Education's recently released school performance report, which assigns every public school a score between 1-100, Westfield High School got a 63.1. 

In its official statement, the Westfield School District said that, when measuring student growth and performance, it is important to consider a wide array of indicators beyond those used by the state, which consist of PARCC proficiency tests, graduation rates and chronic absenteeism.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Paul Pineiro explained that some of the top schools in the area don’t rate high in these rankings because many students here don't even take the PARCC test.

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“Students with strong SAT, ACT and PSAT scores had the option to not take PARCC to meet the graduation requirement; therefore, the sample was not representative of the student population as a whole,” Pineiro said.

The district's statement said that Westfield students continue to perform well throughout the district and, in many cases, students outperform statewide metrics.

“Ninety two percent of students who took Advanced Placement subject tests in 2017 earned a score of 3+, compared to the statewide average of 71 percent,” it said.

The statement also explains that about half of all 10th and 11th grade students in the Westfield public schools satisfied their language arts graduation requirement via another state-approved assessment option, such as the SAT or ACT. Nearly two thirds of all 10th and 11th graders in the district satisfied their mathematics graduation requirement in a similar manner, it said.

“The bottom line as to why the rankings are controversial is that they were derived in a statistically incomplete methodology. They don’t accurately reflect school performance for a number of reasons,” Pineiro said, adding that the ranking system is complicated.

“The New Jersey Department of Education is in a very difficult position and had to straddle state law and parent and political pressure while also meeting federal regulations for accountability which ultimately ties into funding,” he said. 

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