New Jersey Monthly’s 2010 “Top High Schools” listing shows that the best way to have great public high schools is to  locate them in rich towns.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit facetious.   But it underscores the fact that “good schools” just like “failing schools” are about more than teachers.
The magazine’s September listing of the top public high schools includes each school’s’ “district factor group,” or DFG which is a measure of the socioeconomic status of the town where the school is located.  Schools are ranked by the state Department of Education from “A” the poorest, to “J” the wealthiest.
Of the top 100 high schools on the list of 322, all but five have a DFG at least an “F,”   which puts them pretty solidly in the wealthier group of districtst statewide.   McNair Academy in Jersey City, a “B” district, was ranked second, but it’s a selective magnet high school, as is Science High School in Newark, an “A” district, which ranked 69th.
If you take out McNair Academy, the first 32 high schools are all in the “I” and “J” districts, the wealthiest in the state. The number one high school is Millburn in Essex County.
The other three in the top 100 that are not in the wealthiest group are another magnet school, Dwight Morrow in Englewood, a “D” district, Palisades Park in Bergen County, a “D” district, and our very own Ocean City High School, also a “D” district, which ranked 99th.
Now, in a very simplified world, if we just took all the students out of the so-called “failing” schools and sent to the top schools, that would solve our failing school problem.   But we all know the issue is far more complicated. Or we should know that.
Once we get into the second 100, we have Mainland Regional High School in Linwood at 139,  Southern Regional High School at 154, Schalick High School in Pittsgrove Township at 168, and Barnegat High School at 193.  Everyone else in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean County is over 200 on the list. The list does not include vocational high schools or other specialized schools.