(October 29, 2021---Jersey City) U.S. News & World Report published their public ranking of middle schools and Explore Middle School has placed among the top 30% of middle schools in the state of New Jersey, making it a U.S. News Best Middle School, announced Principal Krone. And, New Jersey has been named the best state in the country for public school education- what a wonderful achievement for both our district and state!
According to U.S. News & World Report, the methodology used to determine a middle school’s ranking is based on the students’ proficiency in the mathematics and the reading/language arts state assessments. Also considered are the results of the state testing in the context of the socioeconomic demographics of the students. This helps to determine how successfully a school is educating all of its students.
Explore students have scored “well above expectations” in reading and mathematics proficiency. Last year students took three standardized LinkIt tests throughout the course of the year to measure students’ progress and help teachers identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. Many school districts administered this test, or similar tests, to use this data to measure learning loss; we were pleasantly surprised when the data revealed growth, school-wide, in both language arts and mathematics. Principal Krone attributes this success to our school culture.
“Despite running the school virtually last year, we remained committed to practices that make us unique, such as project-based learning. We did not waver from our focus on student engagement and school culture. We continued to have PSA meetings, student council elections, school-wide assemblies, field trips, after school clubs, and our annual traditions, such as spirit week and our Black History Month celebration. Spirit Week was so successful that it turned into several Spirit Weeks. However, they were done virtually, through Google Classroom and social media. We did not want our students to miss out on any activities and we certainly did not want them to feel disconnected from their Explore family. This positively impacted student learning and growth,” states Principal Krone.
Justine Franco, social media advisor, shared, “Once virtual classes became a full time situation, Explore’s social media outlets became a lifeline for our school community. Our social media pages have always been a priority as they provide the opportunity for our families and community members to see what our students are up to, often in real-time.” Explore Middle School has an active Facebook and Instagram page that is utilized daily for morning announcements and important information, to share student activities, and to celebrate students’ accomplishments.
Franco continued, “Through our Facebook and Instagram pages, during virtual learning, we kept our students connected not only with their teachers and school community but with one another. Our student council members engaged the Wolfpack in participating in activities that allowed for creativity, fun, and a sense of community from home. These platforms served as a bit of normalcy with daily morning announcements and birthday shoutouts, and opportunities for enjoyment with dress-down themes, games, and community service. When emails and Google Classroom posts became the new norm for communication, we were fortunate to have a separate platform for students to make those crucial social connections that happen outside of the classroom. I’ve always taken great pride in our social media presence and I take even more pride in knowing that it played a role in our students’ continued success during difficult times.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, students at Explore are excelling. This recognition has helped to boost student morale at Explore. 7th grader Hilarya Ishaq commented on the accolade. “I am so proud of the school and our hard work. Even though we are learning through a pandemic, it shows that we are doing a great job!”
Superintendent Amy Lin-Rodriguez offered her congratulations to Explore. “This accomplishment is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff, students, and entire Explore community.” She stated further, “Through collaborative planning to maximize effective resources, we will continue to support our Explore students and staff on this impressive trajectory.”