Over the weekend I came across a post on Facebook "Top 100 School Districts In NJ" from the website "Niche". I was intrigued and had to take a look to see where Middletown ranked, needless to say Middletown didn't rank in the top 100 school districts. But before getting into rankings let me tell you a little bit about Niche.
Niche was founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University students as CollegeProwler.com and provides reviews and insight from experts that help families determine the best neighborhoods to live or relocate to and the best colleges or K-12 schools to attend in a given area as transparently as possible.
Niche ranked 8,738 school districts throughout the country based on dozens of key statistics and 4.6 million opinions from 280,000 students and parents. Niche allows you to then search for individual school districts or schools within a district to see how they stand up compared to other schools in the a specific region. You can read about their methodology... Here
Now, getting back to Middletown.
According to Niche, Middletown is ranked 156 out of 590 school districts in New Jersey, with an overall grade for the district of B+. That's not very good if you ask me. If you compare Middletown to other school districts from Monmouth County that ranked higher such as Rumson-Fair Haven (21), Holmdel (30), Red Bank Regional (31), Ocean Township (83) or Monmouth Regional (90) to name a few, it almost seems worse. If you look at school districts outside of Monmouth County that were ranked higher than Middletown by Niche; Millburn Township (1), Cresskill School District (14), South Brunswick School District (20), Old Bridge Township (96) and Jackson Township (99) with many others scattered in between, you're left scratching your head, wondering what the heck is going on.
According to the statistics listed by Niche, Middletown school district has 17 schools and 10,110 students enrolled. Middletown spends $14,692 per student and has a student to teacher ratio of 14:1. Those are middling numbers when compared to the other school districts on the Top 100 list but much better than the national average. So I don't truly comprehend what's going on, Middletown should be doing a lot better.
The graduation rate for Middletown high schoolers is only 93%. That's pretty good when compared to the national average of 81% but it falls short of many other schools on the Top 100 list. Student proficiencies in math and reading are also lagging many of the other school districts on the list.
When you look at and read some of the 234 reviews (comments) left by recent alumni and current student dated back to March 2013 to as recently as 3 days ago, you get the sense that there are issues that need to be addressed and that there are 2 distinct and somewhat unequal High Schools in town, with Middletown South being far superior in culture and academics than Middletown North.
School spirit seems to rank high with many of the reviewers along with a general feeling of contentment and approval for teachers and other faculty members but there seems to be an issue with the over emphasis on football and sports in general, for many. Bulling, drinking and drug usage also seems to be a concern of many:
- Sports & Fitness at Middletown High School South: All athletic facilities are made to the benefit of the football team. The school tends to favor football over everything else.
- Sports & Fitness at Middletown High School South: There are several sports to choose from, and a decent amount of students play sports. South's teams generally do very well, especially the football team. School spirit is pretty high.
- Health & Safety at Middletown High School South: This school is in a typical suburban area. The town itself is generally a safe area with mishaps here and there, but not often. There is always people drinking on the weekends, not necessarily huge parties, but the option is always there. There are plenty of other things to do near by that people take part in rather than parties. In terms of discipline, there are always those kids who constantly are being suspended and causing trouble, it's everywhere. As a whole, most people do not cause trouble and there is not too many disturbances. Bullying was never an issue either, which is comforting. People will have mishaps, but not everyone is going to get along. There is enough people where each person can find a group of friends or chose to be left alone. It is mostly dominated by sports and the "popular" kids. To be popular, from my point of view, is to be as basic as every girl on Instagram. It is hard to explain unless you experience it firsthand, but from my point of view the ones who end up dominating the class are by no means down to earth and need a reality check. But, that is my personal opinion.
- Educational Outcomes at Middletown High School North: This school is average and pretty easy to graduate but not good at preparing you for the real world.
- Health & Safety at Middletown High School North: Bullies are everywhere and this school is no different. Drugs are very common.
- Administration & Policies at Middletown High School North: Favoritism is very prevalent. Some administration are very dedicated while others should not be allowed to teach. Bullying is a horrible problem here, as well as drugs and fighting.
- Administration &Policies at Middletown High School South: They care and are disciplinary of the wrong things and there is no focus on bullying
There were many comment other than what I posted above. A vast majority of them are positive so you should read them for yourself to form your own opinions. I think however, the Middletown Board of Education and School Superintendent should look at this report by Niche and take seriously some of the things students are writing about. They should then reach out to parents in the district, to see what they feel should be done to improve the school district.
Middletown and it's students deserve better.