The Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison was named the top public high school in New Jersey in the latest rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Another school in the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge, was ranked fifth in New Jersey. In addition, the Edison Academy was deemed the second best school in the nation for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
The Edison Academy, which perennial is placed highly by U.S. News and in other rankings, was ranked 33rd overall among more than 17,000 public high schools in the nation, while the Woodbridge Academy was 70th. "MCVTS is incredibly proud of our students and staff whose hard work and dedication has resulted in the rankings of two of our high schools as first and fifth in New Jersey,” Superintendent of Schools Dianne D. Veilleux said. “Our students, our staff and the families who support them share in these awards, which recognize their efforts and prepare them for bright futures."
The rankings are based on a number of criteria, including college readiness, breadth of college-level curriculum, math and reading proficiency, performance of “underserved” students, such as minorities and students from low-income families, and graduation rate. Both Middlesex County academies have 100 percent graduation rates. Edison Academy Principal John Jeffries said he was surprised that the school moved up from its third-place ranking in the state last year and its eighth-place STEM ranking nationally.
“It’s a testament to all that our students and staff work together to do,” he said. “It’s great accomplishment. It’s a testament to the learning community as a whole.” Jeffries said the academy, which has 160 students and is on the campus of Middlesex County College, has added a number of programs that might have influenced the higher ranking this year, including a mentorship program in which students team with professionals in their field to work on year-long projects. While he said STEM courses “are our main focus, our relevance,” the school also has been incorporating arts into the curriculum and has established a maker space to spur creativity.
Spanish teacher John Ocker, who has been at the school all but one of its 20 years, said what the students have in common is “they are extremely motivated by their grades and doing well.” “The students are very animated about their learning,” he said. Edison Academy senior Sharanya Pogaku, who will be attending New York University in the fall, said her instruction in problem-solving and teamwork as a civil and mechanical engineering major will benefit her as a business major in college. She credits the small learning community with the success of the Edison Academy. “We get to connect with the teachers and they’re very helpful,” she said.
Woodbridge Academy Principal Terri Ann Sullivan said “being ranked fifth in the state is a huge honor.” “Our students are provided a well-rounded education and the opportunity to take a variety of advanced placement and college classes, which is why we scored 99.7 percent in college readiness,” she said. “While our school is science-focused, our students are taking AP language, AP literature, AP United States history, and AP Spanish. “Our school offers a tight-knit community environment for our 281 students, and our ability to get to know each student is also a piece of the puzzle to this year's achievement.”