Kinnelon High Ranking a Result of Student Achievement Campaign

Interim superintendent credits staff to KHS being named a top high school in the state.

It was no surprise to the and Kinnelon Public Schools administration that the high school of the best high schools in the state this week. The school staff has been working to climb the list for years now.

"The KHS Administration is very appreciative that NJ Monthly has recognized the outcomes of the combined efforts of our teachers, supervisors and district administration, who work with us in helping our students reach their potential," Principal Dr. Wayne Merckling said. "The support of our board of education and the township, along with the encouragement of the parents, have complemented our efforts."

Kinnelon High School was ranked No. 5 out of 328 public high schools in the state. NJ Monthly uses the state Department of Education's school report cards and examines three categories to determine rankings: student performance, student outcomes and school environment. The magazine's last rankings, in 2010, pegged Kinnelon High School at No. 21.

Kinnelon as well, but Interim Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe said the district has always considered it a special honor to be ranked high amongst other schools in the state.

"We're very happy that NJ Monthly has recognized Kinnelon and that we've moved up," she said.

Echoing the words of Merckling, DiGiuseppe said the achievement would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the school and district staff, as well as the . She said the Kinnelon school community has placed an emphasis on student performance and increasing test scores.

"I think part of the reason we've jumped so much is our SAT scores have jumped and we did really well on the HSPA," DiGiuseppe said.

DiGiuseppe during the last board of education meeting, in which she told board members that HSPA scores improved by about 10 percent in math this year and about 3.5 percent in language arts. The high school also met its District Factor Group goal for SAT scores this year, meaning Kinnelon scores are comparable to those of other high schools of the same socio-economic status.

The environment of Kinnelon High School is also favorable, DiGiuseppe said, as the student-to-teacher ratio is low, with class sizes being small. The district has been able to maintain or improve quality with a limited amount of state aid and limitations on raising the district budget.

"We do a lot with not a lot of money and not a lot of staff," DiGiuseppe said. "We've had a lot of staff cuts over the last couple of years. We tried to to make the most out of what we have and it's really nice to see that we have."

The interim superintendent said a great deal of credit also goes to former superintendent Jim Opiekun, who Opiekun began what DiGiuseppe called a "full-out campaign" to motivate and push students toward high achievement.

"It's just been a combined effort with the principals and the teachers to just keep moving in that direction," she said.

The NJ Monthly ranking is not the only good news for the district this week. DiGiuseppe said she has also learned that five of the high school students have been named National AP Scholars; 21 students have been named AP Scholars with Distinction; seven students have been named AP Scholars with Honor; and 13 students have been named AP Scholars. Four high school students have been named to the All-State Chorus for the 2012-13 school year as well.

Mary Ann August 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM
It is about time the teachers have been recognized!
JAMES CAVALLO August 23, 2012 at 01:10 PM
It's nice to know that are very high taxes are being used well. How 'bout a nice hand for all the moms and dads that work so hard to pay those property taxes that are used to pay for these great teachers.
Make me laugh August 23, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Don't forget to thank the moms and dads for all the money they pay the Kinnelon teachers in cash in additon to the taxes to tutor our kids either.
Kinnelon Education Tops August 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
No question there are parents (such as myself) who do pay the teachers to tutor. You are absolutely correct that some of the thanks should go to us as parents. However that being said, some of Kinnelon's academic success of course must be attributed to the administration and the teachers as well. Last I checked, most parents in Kinnelon do not home school their children. Let's be realistic - you get what you pay for. Many parents such as myself live in Kinnelon because of the educational reputation of the school district and the community as a whole. Mr. Cavallo - Kinnelon may have very high taxes (trust me I know), but that's the price I am willing to pay in order to live in this school district and community I call my home.
laidbackluke August 23, 2012 at 08:15 PM
What about a congrats or a thanks to the kids for achieving this? No matter how hard the teachers or administration work, their would be no success if the students did not work their hardest to achieve this in school. It is their hard work that can create such an outcome.
Kinnelon Education Tops August 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Laidbackluke - You are so right!!!! They probably deserve the most credit without question!!!!
JAMES CAVALLO August 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM
With a ranking as great as this, there is no wonder that all parts of the educational system had to work together well. This is the exact reason that I, as well as many of us, chose to place ourselves in this community when many where available for much less. On another note, thanks for pointing out that our teachers do tudor for an additional fee. I was unaware of that. With the $$$ paid to them though, I can't say that I'm surprised.
Yes, I teach in Kinnelon September 16, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Perhaps the statement that teachers do tutoring at an additional fee is a bit misleading. Teachers are prohibited from private tutoring any student in their school. If parents wish to hire a tutor, and that tutor is a Kinnelon teacher from another building, parents should have the right to hire that person.
JAMES CAVALLO September 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I'm very glad that you cleared that up. After what I read above here, I was beginning to believe that there are teachers that are being paid to tutor there own students. That would scream "FOUL" in my book!!! Thanks for setting me straight on that fact. Knowing that doesn't occur makes me feel much better.


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