Not As Good As You Think: New Jersey

Read the Study

Read the Press Release

Many middle-class New Jersey residents think that most low-performing schools are located in poor inner cities such as Newark, not in their nice neighborhoods or in their smaller towns. They need to think again.

Based on a variety of indicators, many New Jersey public schools with predominantly non-low income/middle class student populations are not as good as people think.

Among the 114 predominantly non-low-income high schools in New Jersey, which met the state target of 80 percent or more of the seniors taking the SAT, 28 percent, or nearly 3 in 10, had half or more of their SAT-takers fail to score at or above the college readiness benchmark score of 1550. The study used 2014 SAT testing data.

At the lower grade levels, many students also failed to perform at the target proficient level. Based on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), often referred to as the nation’s report card, the study reveals the following:

  • On the 2015 NAEP fourth-grade reading test, 43 percent of non-low income New Jersey test takers failed to score at proficient level.
  • On the NAEP fourth-grade math test, 38 percent of non-low income New Jersey students failed to score at the proficient level.
  • On the 2015 NAEP eighth-grade reading exam, 49 percent of non-low income New Jersey test takers failed to score at the proficiency level.
  • On the NAEP eighth-grade math exam, 42 percent of non-low income New Jersey test-takers failed to score at the proficient level.

The study evaluates regular public schools where one-third or fewer of the students are classified as low income. The results should cause middle-class parents to rethink their views on the quality of their neighborhood public school, and consequently, to open their minds to other education options, choices, and policy changes that would allow their children to escape underperforming schools and attend better-performing alternatives. The study recommends that New Jersey lawmakers consider school-choice options such as education savings accounts and tax-credit programs, which have been enacted in other states.

See How Your School Stacks Up


Median Home Value

The median home value in the zip code in which the school is located.

% Low-Income

The percentage of economically disadvantaged students in the school. The study only includes schools in which 33 percent or fewer of the students qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

ELA % Prof./Math % Prof.

The percentage of students that scored proficient or above on the NJ ASK or HSPA in English language arts/reading or math in 2014.

School SAT Average Score

The 2014 average composite SAT score for all students who took the SAT at that particular high school.

Percentage of SAT Takers Over 1550

The percentage of students taking the SAT at that particular high school who scored at or above the SAT’s college-readiness benchmark score of 1550 in 2014. Research by the College Board shows a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of college if a student scores at least a 1550 on the SAT, which in turn indicates a high likelihood of college success and completion.

School Percentage Taking the SAT

The percentage of students at the particular high school who took the SAT in 2014. The state target is 80 percent of students at a particular high school taking the SAT.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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