Hoboken High School by the Numbers

A full understanding of what contributes to test performance requires looking beyond headlines and digging into the data. Doing so reveals important truths about Hoboken High School, past and present.


Recent reports and news articles have brought renewed focus on Hoboken High School test scores and ranking amongst its peers. While most people would agree that what makes a school great goes way beyond standardized test scores, such testing is one of the few (mostly) objective measures available to track student performance. An important question to keep in mind, however, when considering recent trends and comparisons with other districts is: do these headlines and the data behind them fully and accurately describe the quality of the schools?

This was the question that prompted me to take a deep dive into the data and look at other ancillary factors behind the metrics. I looked at the contributors, historically, to such performance measures, and got better insight into the current state of the district, and the high school in particular. It was immediately apparent that certain actions taken in the past directly impacted average test performance scores and, as a result, the school's ranking in various publications. But the research effort also led to some important takeaways about administration of the school in recent years and speaks positively about the direction we are headed and how we will get there.

Report Summary:

  • Hoboken High School (like most public schools) has a mandate to accept and serve all children in the community; public schools with selection/admission criteria have an advantage in testing by drawing away high achieving students from other districts
  • Many districts have sought to improve their perceived test performance through improper handling of student enrollment and other means; Hoboken High School also did this throughout the early to mid-2000s
  • Introduction of the AJ Demarest Alternative School served many at-risk and academically struggling students; when these students moved out of the Hoboken High community it had an immediate and significant impact on average test scores reported by HHS
  • Both of these factors (mishandling of grade 11 student rolls and the addition of the Demarest Alternative School) also had a significant impact on the high school's ranking in the NJ Monthly 'Top High Schools' list, among others
  • Underlying socio-economic factors at play in the community along with the competitive school landscape are also fundamental, contributing factors that are well documented and decades in the making; improvements are possible but require dedicated, long term strategies
  • Essential to such solutions are accurate assessments of said challenges and commitment to higher standards for all; in this regard, the Hoboken district and Hoboken High School is making big strides and a number of statistics show how HHS is outperforming county peers and state averages
  • While district test scores and broader proficiency levels have a long way to go, the current standards being applied to reporting accuracy and transparency, as well as more rigorous academic tracks (including AP courses) indicate that substantive efforts are well underway
  • These higher academic standards, coupled with an already strong offering of elective courses, sports & arts programs, extracurriculars, and safe, well equipped facilities, mean that Hoboken High School represents a much more compelling educational option than recent headlines imply

The full report is linked in pdf form to this posting and is also available for download here: Hoboken High School by the Numbers: A Closer Look at Testing and Rankings


I look forward to (constructive) comments and feedback.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JasonYH October 06, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Beyond the primary objective of drawing attention to the schools' current strengths and challenging many of the critiques leveled at them, I also wrote this report to generate intelligent discussion (as naive as that might sound) on the real challenges we face. It's about the schools and the people in them. That's it. So, drawing conclusions from the report was part of the point and while I cannot stop someone from referencing it however they like, I am asking, again, to stop attaching my name to your politically motivated comments. "If I want to associate my name with any other people or position I'll do it myself, thank you."
Passkey October 06, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Pied Piper said in a previous post, "10r stopped in fall of 2009- if kids first was in majority in may 2009, how is it that 10r stopped before?" IMHO, She/he is the one making this a political issue by referencing the political group KIDS FIRST. I referenced your analysis to point out the error in her statement as when I or anyone else says anything, it gets disregarded and attacked personally. Perhaps inadvertently, perhaps deliberately, you and your analysis have now entered into the narrative about the so called "10R" practice in the district. So, when Pied piper or anyone else tries to misappropriate credit for ending the "10r" practice to KIDS FIRST and blame things on the so called "OLD GUARD" you can be assured I will reference your work as it has the air of objectivity about it. I make no assumption-- nor do I care-- of your political or non-political affilation or support. Its literally immaterial to me. However, I would rather not get you upset or feel your work is being co-opted. So, I will reference the PATCH url to this post and not your name as per your wishes. I trust that is reasoanable and acceptable to you.
Passkey October 06, 2012 at 07:01 PM
pied piper- you REALLY do not know what you are talking about. Not that that has ever stopped you before. We both read that accuracy and transparency in district enrollment and test data reporting was restored in 2008-09 school year. Dr. Cella was the principal then (2008-09) as well as for the start of the 2009-10 school year (up to Feb 2010). Kids First had NOTHING to do with ending the practice. Carter had NOTHING to do with endingt he practice. And yet, you and the other KIDS FIRST supporters are referencing this non-issue rather than dealing with the test scores and independent evaluations completed in the successive 3 years. "At least we now have honest scores"-- seeems to be the mantra rather than accepting responsibility for things like the DINI status, AYP issues, drop out rates, and the revolving door of administrators for the past 3 years. In the words of Theresa Minutillo, "we are failing our students"--
pied piper October 07, 2012 at 04:03 AM
No Passkey, Iam not wrong- I had children in the district back then and I and everyone else knew exactly what was going on. You can view Farina and others concerns on video should you like- I believe it was the Feb 09 BOE video.
pied piper October 07, 2012 at 04:32 AM
As to your deep hatred and OBSESSION with Ms. Minutillo: Minutillo is on the record for voting against school choice b/c it was presented as a revenue stream...and just maybe she thought that the gagliard/raslowsky/board pissed away enough money... it never went back into the classroom!! That was likely her beef..and gee-didn't the audits proved her right. But then again, I wonder if it were Raslowsky's degree in Zoology that disturbed Ms. Minutillo or maybe his lack of experience in a public district or as a superintendent... or his lack of a superintendent certificate (yes, he had a eligibility cert that required him to get the proper licence- which he never did)... or the fact that he needed to be mentored while on the job... pick anyone of the above... It was all money taken away from the kids. Check the audit for yourself. But it didn't stop her from saying that Raslowsky needed the tools and staff necessary, I remember her voting for Raslowsky's requests,questioning and hoping that he would be successful. She even voted for Raslowski's Petrocino guy who took a full time salary from the HBOE while he worked full-time in Texas and when he was let go, sued to get more of the kids money, . He lost his lawsuit but it still cost the district money to fight the suit- money that could have been used for the kids . Do you own a mirror?
pied piper October 07, 2012 at 05:09 AM
The very same years the culling existed.
pied piper October 07, 2012 at 05:18 AM
You acknowledge that the culling of students ocurred for some 10years. You acknowledge that 142 (69%) out of 206 (prior year's 10th grade)students took the 11th grade HSPA in 08, which,as has been pointed out, likely had a great effect on testing outcomes. The reason the timing matters is because of the variance in the 09/10 test outcome . In 08/09 there were 147 10th graders. These 147 10th graders became 149 11th graders in 09/10 (the first time in 10 years that the student numbers were consistent and nearly mirrored the prior year)-Thus ,in 09/10 there were 149 (100% plus 2 new kids) out of 147 (prior 10th graders) taking the 11th grade test . Indicating that the first testing year, which did not have student culling was 09/10. This is significant because it also coincides with a lowering of the hspa testing avgs. Clearly, there is a correlation among the ceasation of culling and lowered testing averages. Conversely, as pointed out in jasonyh post, the highest testing averages occured when the fewest (53% of the student population) took the test. It is unconscienable that you (&buds) claim to be disturbed by the lowering of the testing outcomes knowing full well the student population was culled prior to a new school board majority and that such culling ceased after the new board majority took their seats. This is where it gets political for you. You need it to be 2008 and not 2009 because the prior Raia etal majority was from 1996- 2008.
puzzledone October 07, 2012 at 11:44 AM
I think it's fair to say that anyone reading this board top to bottom will realize that someone has indeed paid the piper.
Hobbs October 07, 2012 at 12:57 PM
KIDS FIRST - November 6 K-L-M Kluepfel - Mitchell - McAllister
CuriousReplacement October 07, 2012 at 01:54 PM
"Passkey," I notice that your voice is, um, changing. It's going up instead of down, like reverse adolescence. Coupled with this change is a sudden obsession with Theresa Minutillo. I LIKE IT! Can I use the ID too when CuriousGal is done with it? It's better to seem like two critics than one. I had a question, Passkey For a Day. I'm sending the little Replacement to Stevens Cooperative. Do you think I'll get flack if I keep hammering Kids First, even though I'm putting my own little cherub in a private school to the tune of $16400? See, that's another reason I'd like to borrow your ID. Would that be ok? You, me, and CG can come up with a time sharing arrangement I'm sure. Private school parents and non-residents sharing IDs and hammering the BOE - Dawn's legacy. PS. Could you tell CG to make the posts she does when she's using your ID sound a little more like you than her? We gotta think about our credibility. At least until the election is over.
I am Spartacus October 07, 2012 at 05:38 PM
How better to distract everyone from the fact that the faction backed by Mason, Raia & Russo for years artificially inflated test scores by using the 10r scam than to pretend they are responsible for getting rid of the 10r scam just before they lost power over the BOE. No amount of pretending will change the fact they hid how poorly the schools were doing by juicing the test scores or will change that 200+ page audit that lambasted the financial controls and management practices over at the BOE when they ran things. And no amount of pretending will make me think they don't fully intend to return to the poor practices of the past if they get back in power. The only question I have is how many dozens of clerks, janitors, administrators & other make work jobs will they rehire if we are ever unfortunate enough to see them in control over at the BOE ever again.
nice try October 07, 2012 at 05:53 PM
@Passkey: Cella quit ..... "She was not forced out of Hoboken, contrary to what some sources had claimed. She said she decided to start a job search last summer, the day former Superintendent Jack Raslowsky resigned his position." Hoboken Reporter http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/6417915/article-Fear-and-loathing-in-the-Hoboken-schools-Some-upset-with-manner-of-principal%E2%80%99s-dismissal--others-support-move-?
CuriousReplacement October 07, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Quit picking on CuriousPasskeyGal will ya? I'm pretty sure your comments are defamatory by the way. For enough money my lawyer will think so too. Lawsuits as a political weapon - Dawn's legacy.
CuriousGal October 07, 2012 at 11:48 PM
3months into Raslowsky's administration Minutillo was bad mouthing his efforts at BOE meetings. Less than a full year into his administration she put a letter in the Hoboken Reporter against him. And he was a licensed superintendent. The State would not have allowed ANYONE to lead a school district without the proper license and certificate. Your accusations against Raslowsky (Harvard educated, former St. Peter's Prep Principal, current Presdeint of a prestigious school in NYC) are baseless, without merit, and dishonerable. If only he was from Newark, Keyport, or Plainfield instead of Hoboken, right?
CuriousGal October 07, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Passkey seems mistaken on this and pied piper appears correct. School Choice was first introduced in NJ during the 2000 school year. The bill was reauthorized in 2010. Raslowsky DID try to revitalize the program in 2009 and was successful in doing so despite NO votes from a number of Board members- including Theresa Minutillo who did make a statement to the press stating that School Choice seemed like a financial decision more than an educational one. Since Rasloskwy left the district, School Choice has expanded from 20 students to approval for 240. No doubt this is due to the decline in families from Hoboken seeing the public schools as a vialble option for their children.
CuriousGal October 08, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Dr. Cella was told in November of 2009 by a very high level interim district administrator that the Kids First Board would not be renewing her contract for the following year (her tenure year). Dr. Cella's lawsuit centers on harassement.
Journey October 08, 2012 at 10:26 AM
CG, Better demand a retraction from the Hudson Reporter then. "She was not forced out of Hoboken, contrary to what some sources had claimed. She said she decided to start a job search last summer, the day former Superintendent Jack Raslowsky resigned his position." Read more: Hudson Reporter - Fear and loathing in the Hoboken schools Some upset with manner of principal’s dismissal others support move http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/6417915/article-Fear-and-loathing-in-the-Hoboken-schools-Some-upset-with-manner-of-principal’s-dismissal--others-support-move- I'm sure during her frivolous lawsuit it will come out when she excepted the new job. Thank the gods that this is not the good old days of fired employees seeing and the city settling. Now that the city is winning maybe they will realize this is not the underhanded way of getting a pay out.
Journey October 08, 2012 at 10:36 AM
This also means that 240 families think Hoboken scores are better than their own schools. Now give some facts that say any change in Hoboken enrollment has to do with the school, or any other factor. A decline with no factual context is just a decline.
Journey October 08, 2012 at 10:44 AM
CG, If he was so qualified, lacking nothing that the state required, why did the district have to hire a mentor for him? The job he was doing was undermining his position, she merely pointed out his short comings.
I am Spartacus October 08, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Raslowsky had a certification of eligibility which allowed him to take the job but also required that a mentor be hired to oversee him. That sort of certification is akin to a learners permit for superintendents. I don't believe he ever got his full certification or we ever were relieved of the burden of having to pay for a mentor.
CuriousReplacement October 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Oh good, CG, you're done using Passkey's ID for the time being. I need to use it for a while. I'm getting holy hell for trashing Kids First while putting my little darling in Stevens Cooperative to the tune of $16,400. Can you believe people are questioning our ethics over this? One has nothing to do with the other. How I live my curiously private live should have nothing to do with what I tell other people to do in my curiously public life. Right? Private school moms taking a big ole dump on the BOE - Dawn's legacy.
CuriousReplacement October 08, 2012 at 02:33 PM
PS, CuriousGalPal, knock off the Minutillo rants when you're using Passkey's ID, will ya? Everyone knows he doesn't do that, and everyone knows you can't get through 8 words without it. So it makes it obvious we're sharing that logon. We're more clever than these jerks, so lets prove it. Private school moms outsmarting public school jerks - Dawn's legacy.
Hobbs October 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
November 6th Vote. Kids First K L M Kluepefel - Mitchell - McAllister
Hobbs October 10, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Great quote from independent BOE candidate Pat Waiters on Hoboken Reporter web site today after some Move Forward supporters fraudulently told people that she was supporting them. She obviously dosen't. "How can you "Move Forward" with yesterday's corruption." OUCH ! :-)
JasonYH October 20, 2012 at 12:38 AM
For those interested, I have posted some data and notes related to part of my comments at the most recent BOE meeting...here: http://bit.ly/QxrmZ8
Elizabeth Markevitch November 09, 2012 at 01:35 PM
In other words, no one was "left back" and all were eligible to graduate after 4 years and all either eventually took the HSPA test or the Special Review Assessment (SRA) now known as the Alternative High School Assessment. What differed is when the test was taken, not whether the test was taken. Immediately upon being made aware of this practice- and wanting to implement a new approach to remediation, they began a process to phase this process out. Therefore, in March 2008 the top 50% of the identified remedial students were tested along with their junior year cohort and by the March 2009 test administration a year later, the so called "10r" remediation program was eliminated entirely. Like any remediation program or instructional practice, the policy had its advocates and critics as well as its successes and its challenges. The decision to explain, discuss and ultimately stop the existing remediation program and replace it with full faculty instructional practices approach along with collaborative study groups and professional learning communities was supported by the Board and the district administration in March 2009.
Elizabeth Markevitch November 09, 2012 at 01:36 PM
part 1 Here is a detailed explanation about the so called "10R" issue--or missing 11th graders which Ruth often refers to . Over the past few months an old issue concerning mandated state testing (HSPA- New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment) in Hoboken High School has been brought up in an attempt to paint past scores as dishonest. First The State of NEW Jersey exams all data and would not allow that . Apparently, the recent ranking of Hoboken High School in New Jersey Monthly prompted a forensic explanation and rationalization for various political groups-- each placing blame and taking credit for exposing and ending certain remediation practices and policies at Hoboken High. Hopefully this information will to put an end to speculation, character attacks, and to explain instructional decision making in an era of high stakes testing. Late in the 2007-2008 school year, they became aware of a practice in which students were identified for intense remediation and were required to take extra instructional remediation in order to help them pass the HSPA test. Data indicated that sometimes this intense remediation and course taking resulted in students not attaining the proper number of Carnegie units in a particular subject (Mathematics or English) leading to being officially classified as a freshman or sophomore for two successive years—yet remaining with their initial cohort for most of their classes
pdq November 12, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Oh Liz, you are such a sad case- All this basically says is we didnt give the HSPA test to all of the 11th graders until 2009. We called this removal of students from HSPA testing as a remedial program. Here;s what happened to another superintendent who used an identical "rememdial program: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/05/former-el-paso-schools-superintendent-faces-35-years-in-prison-for-test/#ixzz2C18QJXNz ThesLorenzo Garcia pleaded guilty in June to two counts of fraud and faces up to 3½ years in prison at sentencing Friday. Garcia admitted to devising a scheme to keep low performing students from taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. Some of the students would be held back in the ninth grade Copying and supporting Petrosino's and Cella's words, is a great indication as to your character. Next you'll tell us all what a great superintended Gagliardi was- you remember him? The guy who caused a 297 pg audit with millions of money taken from the kids and given to the buddies. Remember Petrosino? The guy who lived in Texas and was paid `144k a year as an asst to the superintendent in Hoboken, collecting healthcare and pension credits. The guy who filed a bogus suit that he lost but the district / kids had to spend lots of money to fight the suit. And Cella? As though the 10r isnt enough, hows her lawsuit coming along?
ThisMeansWar November 12, 2012 at 11:03 PM
You're not seriously thinking of lecturing anyone, are you? How many votes did YOUR ticket buy this time? 700? That, in addition to YOUR ticket's unacknowledged use of the Nazi truck and midnight fliers. Congratulations. You have cast your lot with the worst political element in town. Enjoy their company.
pdq November 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Liz, how is it that a MANDATORY test wasnt given to all of the 11th grade students in 11th grade? This is a-okay with you? A school board candidate BELIEVES that it is okay NOT to give MANDATORY tests to students. Pathetic!


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