You can now watch a new episode of School Leader Up Close, the video companion feature to School Leader, the quarterly magazine of the New Jersey School Boards Association.

The latest episode features Daniel J. Ross, superintendent of Dunellen Public Schools; and Dr. Mark Schwarz, superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools, who spoke about their article, “Demystifying School Rankings and Ratings,” which appears in the latest issue of School Leader magazine.

Janet Bamford, chief public affairs officer of NJSBA, asked the two a variety of questions about school rankings and ratings, including what they are used for, common misconceptions and more.

Ross noted that in some communities, residents watch such rankings and ratings very closely whereas in others, it mostly comes up during real estate transactions.

The article they wrote, Ross said, is meant to provide a broad overview of school rating and raking systems and how they work.

“It is really hard to reduce the complexity of a school district to one number or one set of numbers,” Ross said.

As far as misconceptions about ratings and rankings, Schwarz said that they are not necessarily reflective of all the important metrics that can be measured. He also observed that when looking at academic achievement, a community’s relative affluence is closely correlated with student achievement.

There are some characteristics and qualities that such systems simply cannot capture, the two noted.

“It doesn’t capture the feeling of a place,” Ross said.

Watch the latest episode of School Leader Up Close.

The spring 2024 issue of School Leader, which includes the article they wrote, can be read here.