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Old 06-20-2013, 07:27 PM
 
Location: NJ/NY
18,453 posts, read 15,236,363 times
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US News And World Report, best STEM High Schools in the Country

STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

NJ schools are very prominent on this list, including the #1 school in the country. It would be nice if the list showed the location of the schools so you dont have to click on them to find out where they are located. Some of them are obvious, but a lot are not.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:04 PM
 
1,221 posts, read 2,109,593 times
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*looks at methodology*

So, 12.5% how many kids take AP Math, 12.5% how many kids take AP Science. 37.5% how many kids pass AP Math with a 3+, 37.5% how many kids pass AP Science with a 3+.

This is pretty much a disgrace and the a completely worthless measure of how STEM inclined the school is. It's entirely dependent on how heavily the school pushes AP courses. (and manages to get kids to pass them, which is not all that hard if you spend all year just focused on the test).

An actually useful measure would include things like: extracurricular STEM activities (ex: FIRST robotics), SAT/ACT math scores, state testing math/science scores and that sort of thing.

Even better, would be to just make the ranking based on the only thing that really matters: % of students who are going into STEM majors, and % of students who graduate from STEM majors within 5-6 years.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:27 PM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
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as a student who took multiple AP courses and tests in high school - measuring based on AP test results is far from completely worthless. it obviously is not the only way to measure, but it's definitely a worthwhile measurement. your most advanced STEM students will come out of schools that have good performance on the AP exams. SAT scores are another measure, but I wouldn't argue that they are a better measure. state testing could differ from state to state, so in doing national rankings, it may not be all that useful.

% of students going into STEM majors could be good, but just because I went into a Business major doesn't mean I wasn't an excellent biology/chemistry/physics student.
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:45 AM
 
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I think AP scores are probably a decent measure also. Extracurricular activity related to STEM would be also, but it's kind of hard to quantify. State testing and SAT/ACT scores not as good, as while they likely distinguish the good from the poor well, they're not good distinguishers between schools (or students) at the upper end.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:39 AM
 
Location: NJ/NY
18,453 posts, read 15,236,363 times
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Once again proving that you are never going to get a consensus on methodology on any of these lists. But I think it is safe to say that if you take all these lists and combine them to see which schools consistently make it on the various lists. I think it's a pretty safe bet that those schools are good schools. I don't think you can really fine tune it beyond that though. If Millburn is a few points higher than Mountain Lakes on a list, I don't think it is a fair statement to say that Millburn is a better school than Mountain Lakes. The difference (if there even is one) is so small that it will be lost on 99.9% of students. It is much more logical and accurate to say "these are 2 good schools."
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:32 AM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
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well said. the fact of the matter is...if you're on most of these lists, irrespective of the methodology, you're a good school. that might not mean anything to a parent of a specific type of child, because maybe the school doesn't fit some child's needs. and i still think people grossly undervalue the "average" NJ schools when they look at these lists. but that might be a result of me growing up surrounded by horrible public schools in a 100 mile radius. now - if those schools were measured at how well they produced future farmers, they'd probably rank near the top in the nation.
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:37 AM
 
1,221 posts, read 2,109,593 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnesthesiaMD View Post
Once again proving that you are never going to get a consensus on methodology on any of these lists. But I think it is safe to say that if you take all these lists and combine them to see which schools consistently make it on the various lists. I think it's a pretty safe bet that those schools are good schools. I don't think you can really fine tune it beyond that though. If Millburn is a few points higher than Mountain Lakes on a list, I don't think it is a fair statement to say that Millburn is a better school than Mountain Lakes. The difference (if there even is one) is so small that it will be lost on 99.9% of students. It is much more logical and accurate to say "these are 2 good schools."
Inclusion on this list probably means it's a decent school, but you could tell that from various other factors. But the issue I really have with this one is the exclusion from this list has no bearing on if it's a good school or not, only on how hard they push the AP programs.
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Old 06-21-2013, 10:44 AM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
12,546 posts, read 21,395,557 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millerm277 View Post
Inclusion on this list probably means it's a decent school, but you could tell that from various other factors. But the issue I really have with this one is the exclusion from this list has no bearing on if it's a good school or not, only on how hard they push the AP programs.
If a school pushes AP programs a lot, that's a pretty good indicator that it's a good school. If a school does not, it doesn't mean it's not a good school, but it certainly isn't as good as the schools who push the AP programs.

c'mon now...this is pretty straightforward.
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Old 06-21-2013, 11:51 AM
 
1,221 posts, read 2,109,593 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradykp View Post
If a school pushes AP programs a lot, that's a pretty good indicator that it's a good school. If a school does not, it doesn't mean it's not a good school, but it certainly isn't as good as the schools who push the AP programs.

c'mon now...this is pretty straightforward.

Except that isn't really the case. I'd rather a school that offered FIRST Robotics, and some other sorts of advanced STEM programs, than one offering one more AP course/pressuring a few more kids into their AP program, for example.

A smaller district might offer a phenomenal education, but not have enough students to be able to offer every AP. A district with students from a lower socioeconomic status will probably have a lower % of students who are academically ready to take AP courses.....but they might offer great AP courses for those who are capable of doing it.

Lets say Newark HS has 20% of their kids taking AP courses and passing them, and Millburn has 25%. Newark has pulled off a much bigger accomplishment than Millburn, given the student body they're working with, and probably has the better schools in reality, as Millburn's student body was already going to be heavily inclined toward being able to do it to begin with. (Obviously this is hypothetical, not reality).
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:07 PM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
12,546 posts, read 21,395,557 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millerm277 View Post
Except that isn't really the case. I'd rather a school that offered FIRST Robotics, and some other sorts of advanced STEM programs, than one offering one more AP course/pressuring a few more kids into their AP program, for example.

A smaller district might offer a phenomenal education, but not have enough students to be able to offer every AP. A district with students from a lower socioeconomic status will probably have a lower % of students who are academically ready to take AP courses.....but they might offer great AP courses for those who are capable of doing it.

Lets say Newark HS has 20% of their kids taking AP courses and passing them, and Millburn has 25%. Newark has pulled off a much bigger accomplishment than Millburn, given the student body they're working with, and probably has the better schools in reality, as Millburn's student body was already going to be heavily inclined toward being able to do it to begin with. (Obviously this is hypothetical, not reality).
is it really the "either/or" situation you describe? Obviously, we'd need more data, but i suspect a school that's going to push very hard on AP course offerings is going to have other advanced programs as well.

and that smaller district may be phenomenal at what it does offer, but if it lacks AP Biology, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, AP History, etc. etc., then students coming out of that school will be less college-prepared, generally speaking, than the school that does offer all of those courses.

The list doesn't tell you what schools are "bad", it just tells you what schools are very very good. Not making these lists does not mean your school is bad, which is what people automatically tend to think.

Your point about the student population is a good one though. Which is why people who read too deeply into these lists are at fault. I can't really respond to your Newark v Millburn hypothetical. I don't even know where to start since that's incredibly hypothetical. Anyways...don't take these lists as the bible, but they are certainly a very useful guide.
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