By Anya Bochman
Millburn Twp. public schools have long been recipients of state and national accolades.
Now, the spotlight is on the district’s elementary schools, with the recent release of a statewide survey titled “The 2019 Best Public Elementary Schools in New Jersey” from the website Niche.com.
Northern New Jersey was represented heavily in the top ten, with Millburn elementary schools getting a total of four slots.
Deerfield Elementary School came in at number four on the list, scoring “A+” in the categories of “academics” and “teachers,” and “A-“ in “diversity.” The preliminary results measured math and English or reading proficiency of the student body, as well as factors such as student-to-teacher ratio. Deerfield scored 86 percent in both math and English, and was shown to have 14 students for every teacher.
Glenwood Elementary, which was next on the list at number five, had almost identical academic rankings, scoring slightly higher in English, according to its state test scores.
Hartshorn Elementary School, which was calculated to have 13 teachers for every student, came in at number six on the survey and achieved similar grades in academics and diversity.
All of the Millburn elementary schools featured in the top ten portion of the survey achieved a grade of “A” or higher in terms of education quality and scholastic proficiency. Wyoming Elementary School, which came in at number eight, was likewise qualified, with perhaps slightly lower overall testing scores.
Niche, which started out as a publisher of U.S. college guide books, is now a ranking and review site which uses various methodology for publishing surveys on schools, cities and neighborhoods across the United States.
According to the website, “The 2019 Best Public Elementary Schools ranking is based on rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education.”
The various components considered, which were not all weighted equally, included the academic grade, teacher quality grade, overall district grade, culture and diversity grade, and an overall parent/student experience grade. The calculations of all grades included a combination of numerical factors, such as state assessment tests, teacher salaries and absenteeism and racial and economic diversity data, and survey responses from parents, teachers and students.
According to Niche, the statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, as self-reported by the schools. The website also collects data directly from schools via their school data update form.
A feature of the website also showed review commentary from parents and students.
“The school experience has exceeded our expectations; perhaps it’s the deep passion our son’s teacher has for her job, or the super engaged PTO,” read one parent’s review of Deerfield Elementary School, while another gave praise to Deerfield Principal Kelly Salazar.
Nancy M. Dries, Communications Coordinator for Millburn Township Public Schools, while declining to comment on individual school grades, nonetheless stated that the district is appreciative of its schools being ranked highly. She also emphasized the virtues of all township schools, regardless of their position on the survey.
“We are proud of the standard of education and student achievement of all the elementary schools in our district,” Dries stated.
Millburn schools have a history of being recognized for excellence.
In 2007, Millburn High School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education. Given only to schools that reach the top ten percent of their state’s testing scores over several years, the award is one of the highest honors a school can achieve. The same high school ranked first out of 322 N.J. schools in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s 2010 story on the state’s “Top Public High Schools,” and eighth out of 328 in its September 2012 issue.