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Millburn Board of Ed Discusses Recent Ranking

Members of the Board of Education comment on the ranking of Millburn's High School by publications at Monday's meeting.

Millburn's Board of Education members addressed the recent ranking of the high school, falling from number one to eight, in its meeting this week, saying achievement has never been higher.

"To me these surveys really mean nothing," vice president of the board, Dr. Eric Siegel, said. "These kids did outstanding. We had a 100-point higher average on SAT scores than the highest school. Our students are achieving. Our students are doing well at the next level. What more could we ask for?"

The board explained that the high school students' SAT score average was 1851, which is the highest of the top 50 schools, according to New Jersey Monthly Magazine. Also, the percent of students with advanced proficient scores on the HSPA was 51.6 in language Arts and 69 in math.

"Would we even have been number one with our scores from two or four years ago if they used the metric that they use today?" Siegel asked. "The answer is probably not."

Board member, Jean Pasternak voiced her opinion on the rankings, saying the district should always have a mindset to improve. She described it as an opportunity to improve and it's not a negative. 

This was the first year that the NJ Monthly Magazine used class size in its criteria of ranking schools, which was the main metric, the board said, in the lowering the high school's rank. This was the first time, sine 2008, the school was not ranked number one. New Jersey Monthly's full rankings can be found here.

Board member, Jeffery Waters, said enrollment in the district was the problem. He explained a few factors went into an increased class size over the last few years.

Two years ago, the district was reviewed and told it must consolidate classes that have fewer than 15 students. 

"We had a lot of sections with less than 15 students," Waters said. "We weren't supposed to have sections with 15 students because you weren't being efficient."

Waters also said, the board had millions of dollars in state aid taken away two years ago. 

"We've maintained our elite achievements with fewer teachers than other schools,"Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield said, previously.

The 2010 class, when the last polling was done, was the smallest in the system, with 320 students. During the current rankings, the 2011 class had almost 400 students, adding 80 students to the high school. That is 5 percent of the students, Waters said.  

"Student achievement is a priority goal and these results dictate that we are accomplishing that goal with phenomenal success," board president Michael Birnberg said. 

More information to come about Monday night's Board of Education meeting. 

LDSF August 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The new school ranking methology rewards survival school with large class size, fewer teachers and the students maintainence of high scores. The class size will continue to grow, state aid will continue to face cut and hopefully Millburn survives effective education to be #1. Go Millburn.
LDSF August 28, 2012 at 01:00 PM
The 21 Century skills and career readiness are the new focus on state standard.
bill August 28, 2012 at 04:57 PM
So with the exception of Ms. Pasternak, the rest of the board and the administration completely failed to question themselves at all and perhaps look for ways to improve. Yes, the test scores are great, but do they really think that they are perfect and have no room to get better? Pretty much everyone in education agrees that smaller class sizes help students, yet the admin and board seem fine with going the other way. Again, we have about the largest of our peer group, and all of those schools have the same financial pressures that we do, some worse. Is there any thought or plan to change this, or does Dr. C just want to bury his head in the sand on the class size issue? What will average class size be in the HS for 2012? In Millburn we try to teach our children to take learning opportunities when they come, always strive to improve no matter where they are, and not to try to ingore constructive criticism. The board apparently has not learned this lesson, and is instead just reflexively defending itself.
Milke Millburn August 28, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Great job Dr.C and board. It seems that making excuses instead of improving is the new mission statement in Millburn. Let's see where Millburn ranks next year.
JKH August 28, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Let's get a bit of perspective here. The rankings changed because the methodology changed. Compared year over year, our results have actually improved. The scuttle bug is that NJ Monthly changed the methodology in an attempt to ward off criticism that their past methodology was skewed towards wealthier districts. It probably was....but the truth is that there is a strong correlation between wealth and performance. Regardless, we did not "fall" in the rankings; the results were calculated according to different criteria and thus, we ended up in a different place not much different than we would have two years ago. It is not well known but NJ.com also ranks schools and this is getting a lot of play on the Internet in other forums. http://www.nj.com/inside-jersey/index.ssf/news_features/new-jerseys-best-public-high-schools.html In those rankings, Millburn came in number two. These folks relied on actual test results and to me, this makes more sense and is much more reflective on the way REAL PEOPLE gage school performance when making a decision to buy. I think the Patch headline that read "Millburn High Schools Falls From Number One" ought to have had a smaller byline that read "Methodology change is seen as the cause" instead of attributing it solely to class size. Lazy reporting in my view. Yes-let's keep improving but let's be real about where things are...
J S Beckerman August 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Milke Millburn [and others]...if you want your comment(s) to be considered as well-meaning as opposed to whining, stop hiding behind a pseudonym.
Milke Millburn August 28, 2012 at 09:27 PM
JS if you are foolish enough to post your name on a forum go right ahead. I beleive the people that disagreed with Crisfield and the board have every right to post under whichever name they deem appropriate.
Sam Henry August 29, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I believe that is one of Dr. Crisfield strengths which he brings with him to the Millburn School District is to make excuses rather then to achieve results. However I must say it appears he has done a great job of teaching the School Board of justify poor results with execuses.
Sam Henry August 29, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I believe Dr. Crisfield and the School Board should be accountable for the results and their selection of him as the Superintendent. Which from his first year results appears questionable as was his selection.
J S Beckerman August 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Milke...1 spelling error and 2 grammatical errors...might be time for you to spend time learning rather than lecturing. By the way, it is easy to vent hiding behind a screen(name)...it has as much value as a prank phone call.
JKH August 29, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I hesitate to take your bait because I know now it's the same five people posting against Dr. CRisfiekd, all with personal axes to grind.....but I don't want some poor person reading this and not knowing where it's coming from so I will ask you...what exactly is broken? Our RESULTS have actually improved including our SAT scores relative to ourselves and other schools. What has changed is the METHODOLOGY they employed as they tried to pander to less wealthier districts. We would have ranked in the same two years ago using their new methodology. NJ.com, which is affiliated with all our area newspapers and has a wider readership by far also ranked high schools and had us at #2 using actual verifiable test results and metrics. So I ask you, Chicken Little, what is so dire that we need to trash our superintendent and board members?
Milke Millburn August 29, 2012 at 02:35 PM
JS, I assume your are a Crisfield fanboy and you are entitled to your opinion. The fact is under Dr. C's watch, Millburn schools have dropped from #1 to #8. You can make whatever excuse you like but you cannot change the ranking. What would have been refreshing to see from Dr. C and this board is an acceptance of the ranking and a plan to get back to #1. What we did see is the same web of excuses that are made for any issue that is different to their agenda. Parents and residents see the nonsense going on with this board and Dr. C. Apparently you do not
Milke Millburn August 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM
My last post was for JKH
JKH August 29, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Mike--Do you have any understanding of statistical analysis? Here is the deal--you cannot "drop" from something if the two data points were not measured the same way. This is no my subjective opinion--this is a fact. If the rankings were calculated using the same methodology two periods in a row, then yes, it is statically significant that we finished in different spots. As it stands, the used different data and our SAT scores and other measures IMPROVED from two years ago. What exactly should Dr. Crisfield have done differently to affect how NJ Monthly stacked its scores? I draw your attention instead to NJ.com which used TEST RESULTS to rank schools. Under that methdology, we came in #2. Our SAT scores and a host of other measurements beat out every other district in the state. These are the same metrics utilized by the NJ. I am done trying to explain all this to you--I imagine you are just preset to whine and I am never going to convince you. Fine by me. My point was to make sure you did not muddy the waters for any other person passing by.... I think I have explained this enough that any person of reasonable intelligence (and without a personal ax to grind) can understand. Hope you get in a better mood.
Noreen Brunini August 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM
MikeMB How can you define these results as a failure -- MBHS % ADVANCED Prof Language 51.6% (#1 school lower @ 41.7%); % ADVANCED Proficient Math MBHS: 69% (#1 sch lower @ 61.8%); AP tests with score of 3+ MBHS 95.5% (#1 sch: lower @ 92.5%) SAT avg MBHS 1851 (#1 sch lower @ 1737)? If you consider MBHS a failure at ranking # 8 you must consider NPHS with lower academic results a bigger failure at ranking #1. Only with your Alice Through the Looking Glass lense are either of these schools a "failure". In reality both of these schools are a success and should be commended as such. The fact that MB is able to educate twice the number of students as NPHS with better educational results and slightly higher class size is to be commended! I am certain the taxpayers are grateful for the efficiency. An average class size of 21 is absolutely reasonable. There is no research showing a negligible difference in average class size between 18 and 21 results in better educational outcome at the high school level. And in fact MBHS, the larger class size has BETTER educational outcome. Additionally, I believe the proposed budget for 2012/2013 school year hires additional HS teachers so the class size issue has in fact already been addressed. What exactly would you propose be done to consider MBHS a success in your mind?
Milke Millburn August 30, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Noreen please show me where I posted Millburn was a failure? I think you are all missing the point I share with others when I say Dr.C and the board should be focusing on how to get to number #1 rather than making excuses why the district dropped. If that is to reduce class size, so be it. No organization can improve or be #1 unless their problems are addressed.
Sam Henry August 30, 2012 at 02:12 PM
JHK I can assure you my post were done independently of all others and I can assure you if the ranking of Millburn High School had remained number 1 Dr. Crisfield would have been at the front of the line taking full credit for the results for the results. And yes I do question whether the School Board did in fact make the right selection when they selected him as the Districts Superintendent only time will tell but at this point and by that measure it is not favorable.
JKH August 30, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Mike: You are not being reasonable because you are ignoring verifiable facts and figures. Our PERFORMANCE is higher than in the past and highest to all if not most districts. What has changed is the methodology of their rankings. NJ Monthly is in the business of trying to sell magazines changed the methodology in an effort to pander to less wealthy districts. If you look at actual student performance, on the whole our results went UP. Actual test results from actual students. Further--compared to 2008, and 2010, had we been measured with this year's criteria, the results and our rankings would be the same....top Ten but not #1. NOTHING BAD HAS HAPPENED IN MILLBURN--this is an external change made to sell magazines. You can't pin a change in methodology to our superintendent. I draw your attention again to the NJ.com rankings. Have you spent any time with the table doing any kind of pivot research? I did and it totally changed my mind that this NJ Monthly thing was an issue. I was blown away with Millburn, honestly. I can't stand by and watch our town and administrators be criticized so unfairly and on such little substance. What problems--exactly? Back up your statements and back up with something beyond repeating that NJ Monthly did not rank us as number one. The truth is there is only ONE thing that we could have done differently: lobby to have NJ Monthly stick to their past methodology. Wisely--I think we all know that's a fool's errand.
JKH August 30, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Just want to add one thing.......because it's hard to communicate online. Before you go defending NJ Monthly's methodology and expressing our desire to climb to number one in the new metrics, will you do me one favor? Go look at the NJ.com results. Please. Just spend five minutes looking at the test scores. Then go to NJ Monthly and spend a few minutes understanding what they did. It was only after I did that, that my outrage subsided. This is a red herring and I think it's important that we in this town understand that regardless of our opinions on what can be improved, these rankings are bs. Not because we are not top ten, but rather because of they way things were manipulated in an effort to sell magazines and pander to the criticism about less wealthier districts. I am not an elitist, by the way, and I am always concerned about the link between income and education but that is a far bigger and complex equation than teachers, class sizes etc so I do understand why they tried to "normalize" for that factor. However--in my honest and hopefully objective opinion, I feel as though we were unfairly handicapped. Perhaps trying to rank with something other than test results is the issue, who knows.....
Hedley August 30, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Are you serious? Have you not been around the last few years with parents complaining about how the system is designed for the kids at the top and leaves the kids in the middle behind? Or the debates on homework, stress, pressure, etc.? And right or wrong, those debates exist so on top of it you are advocating that the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools should be focused on an arbitrary ranking and gear the system towards achieving that ranking, rather than simply doing what is best for all students?
Sam Henry September 02, 2012 at 09:59 PM
JKH if the ranking by NJ Monthly is BS none of us seemed to mind holding that ranking previously in fact we were all proud of it weren't we. The one thing we all must remember is things change and we must evolve. And yes while the other measured results may currently be high now those results did not come from Dr. Crisfield's efforts as education is a cumulative process that is built on over time let's see if this change in ranking is an aberration or the prelude to the further deterioration of the test scores that you referred too. The issue I have with Dr. Crisfield's response rather then admitting this is a disappointment given the long standing prowess Millburn has had in its number 1 Ranking that he will work to remedy in the future. While he appears content that number 8 is a good result my question is if Millburn moves to number 12 will he then state well we are still in the top 25 and that's something to be proud of. Leadership is by example and justify a decline in the stature of Millburn's ranking is not something I consider a true and dedicated leader. But that is only my opinion.
Archie Hudson September 03, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Sam - completely agree with your comments. very disappointed by the response from the board members. Dr. C needs to take responsibility else move on.. I am surprised that Millburn has a higher ratio of admins to teachers.. why is that the case? maybe let go some admins and hire more teachers and get a lower class size. board needs to admit and address the issues else resign! saying we are in the top 10 is nothing to be proud of.. falling from #1 to #8 is a decline - we always need to strive to be #1 just as we expect out of our kids..

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