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Reader Takes a Long term View of Ridgewood Schools

tradition of excellence

“If you are a newish resident (anytime in the last 20 years) you would probably only notice a small decline in comparison with the forward motion of schools who used to be behind us and are now in front–often by many points. If you’ve lived here longer you will have noticed a fairly large increase of staff in the education supervisors. A department that either did not exist or only had at most one or two employees now has increased to an assistant to every assistant who works for a supervisor.

However, the main reason we have declined is completely out of our control. The “No child left behind” law means that instead of being placed in groups according to your ability (like the real world) children are all mixed up. I.Q’s thus range from brilliant to being just a wee bit higher than special ed in the same classroom. The top children are totally bored with having to wait for the slowest to understand a concept, which usually takes days. (Remember–no child can be left behind).

We used to have a pull out program that took the so called “gifted” children to an enrichment class to stimulate them and give them projects above what the other children do. This was in addition to having them taught in their own peer groups. It made the job harder for the teachers as they had to provide material for 3 or more different ability groups going at the same time. Now they only have to provide for one average or lower depending on the abilities in his/her particular class.

As an obvious result, the whole grade school did not learn as fast and “dumbed down ” the students in the middle school as many harder classes are no longer offered until a later year of school. And certain schools were even offered a new test system to learn math. Those “lucky” schools then mostly dropped behind the others in math!

Our schools used to offer a “John Hopkins” exam to the brightest 10% of our 7th graders. This consisted in those students taking the SAT at the same time as high school students. The highest scores were then invited to take some special summer courses as a resident student at the John Hopkins college campus.
Our current students thus are being denied by law from having the many valuable additions which would, of course, have kept our schools out of the highest rankings of years before. However, this still does not explain how others schools with, presumably, the same restrictions are now scoring constantly higher than we are. Maybe they are more resistant to the slavish following of the law then our school Superintendent and staff apparently are. There is absolutely no reason that our school with its many many talented students should rank below other schools.

‘Gifted (a term never used anymore”

4 thoughts on “Reader Takes a Long term View of Ridgewood Schools

  1. 4 generations here and I do not agree with your subjective essay about Ridgewood schools declining compared to other public schools. Your observation about no child left behind being a negative is valid for all public schools not just Ridgewood. Private schools will likely continue to benefit from this advantage but truth is they always have.
    Rank History for Ridgewood High School, does not show decline.
    This graph shows how well Ridgewood High School is performing relative to other high schools in New Jersey.

  2. Not true—there is no hesitation to separate kids in sports. RBsa doesn’t even let rec kids practice. Only travel kids get instruction. And there is no hesitation to have travel soccer, basketball etc. only in the area(academics) that actually matters do we have to pretend the kids are all the same.

  3. Totally agree with the reader. No child left behind is another socialist trick. Everybody gets to be on same mediocre levels and no one can shine and surge ahead. Everybody gets a prize and hence the value of a prize is totally diluted. No wonder kids today value social media “likes” than working hard to get praised in school. Meanwhile children from India, Eastern Europe, China come here at a certain age and show right away how much better they are than our children and much better positioned to succeed. Those who believe in no child left behind are just brainwashed.

  4. Schooldigger, I’m afraid your list somewhat betrays you. I assumed you noticed in the last year summarized, Ridgewood is down 2 points. Little by little Ridgewood has consistently gone downwards. A main problem is the unfairness of ranking private schools and county Academies–all of which attract the top students in any school–against public schools which must educate every student who applies. It is the true “apples vs oranges” comparison. That alone would automatically force lowering of the ranks of any public school. But Ridgewood is no where near being at the top of the public school list. Ridgewood has always had problems–terrible tenured teachers and some other very strange teachers who bullied their students–but basically it provided a great education for self-starters. Lazy kids still did not work up to their educational level–and I’m sure that is true today. Another main difference is that the respect for teachers and authority figures has declined drastically. Too many students think the whole world revolves around them and rebel against anyone telling them what to do. We also have more parents who’ll rush to the school or school board to complain that ” their darling child could never do anything wrong”. Believe me, this is not a new problem, it’s just gotten worse. A friend, who retired at least 15 years ago from being a kindergarten teacher, said that “she never thought she’d be happy to retire, but the kids today…”

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