With a population of nearly 10 million, New Jersey has carved out its niche in the nation as “The Garden State,” boasting one of the highest population densities at 1,263 people per square mile. The 2022 US Census Bureau data confirms that NJ continues to thrive and attract individuals from all walks of life who want to enjoy everything this bustling state offers.
The state runs a robust education system to support the vast population, with roughly 599 school districts serving 1.258 million students in K-12. Picking the right school for your child from a sample size of 2,493 public schools can be daunting. A good school goes beyond academic accomplishments and should meet your kid's unique needs and interests.
We've made your search easier by compiling a list of the ten best schools in the state. The schools are classified into three categories and ranked in ascending order. We considered numerous ranking factors such as academic performance, class size, GreatSchools.org test scores, diversity, student and parent reviews, and faculty experience.
Here are the ten best schools in New Jersey today.
Best Elementary School
Walter M. Schirra Elementary School
1 Awn Street, Old Bridge, NJ 08857
Walter M. Schirra Elementary is a top-rated public elementary school within the Old Bridge Township School District. It serves approximately 278 students in kindergarten through to fifth grade. The school's academic achievements earned it a perfect 10/10 overall rating.
At this school, students shine when it comes to academics. Through engaging enrichment programs in art, technology, and world languages, as well as comprehensive instruction of core subjects, these learners achieve outstanding results – with an 88% proficiency rate for English and 83% for math, far above the state average.
Schirra Elementary enjoys small class sizes, with one teacher for every ten students. It allows instructors to provide extra and personalized attention to each child. Furthermore, the school boasts a highly qualified faculty, with 90% of teachers having over three years of experience and full-time employees being certified. Moreover, Schirra School offers comprehensive support services staffed by a full-time nurse, psychologist, and social worker to ensure students can access all necessary resources.
The school community prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive environment, providing an exciting atmosphere brimming with safety and nurturing for students of all backgrounds. Parents at the school appreciate the great PTA involvement, fantastic school community, and caring teachers. The school is a top choice for families in Old Bridge.
Point Road School
357 Little Silver Point Road, Little Silver, NJ 07739
Point Road School is a public elementary school in Little Silver under the Little Silver Boro School District. It serves the academic needs of roughly 475 pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students. The school takes pride in high academic standards and a nurturing environment for the child's holistic development. GreatSchools.org gives the school a 10/10 overall ranking.
Point Road offers a comprehensive curriculum enriched with numerous programs that tickle the interests of young scholars. Students at the school excel on the state-administered standardized tests, with 83% attaining the proficiency mark in English and 76% in math.
The school appreciates the critical role extracurricular activities play in nurturing social skills and interpersonal relationships among kids. Point Road offers band and orchestra classes before school. It also has a frequent walker, biker club, and girls on the run programs the children can enlist in.
Point Road has a full-time nurse and psychologist who care for the kid's medical and emotional needs. The faculty at the school is highly qualified, with all having certifications and over three years of teaching experience. With one teacher for every ten kids, the school can provide individualized attention to each child.
Island Heights Elementary School
115 Summit Avenue, Island Heights, NJ 08732
Island Heights Elementary is the only school within the Island Heights School District. The school serves approximately 124 students in grades K-6. The school's small setting allows it to provide personalized instruction and attention to the kids, which translates to better academic performance. GreatSchools.org gave Island Heights an overall 10/10 rating.
The U.S. Department of Education named Island Heights a National Blue Ribbon School in 2020, a testament to the quality of education provided at the school. 86% of the students at the school attain the proficiency mark set by the state on standardized scores for English. Additionally, 66% of the young scholars are proficient in math within their respective grade levels.
The school enjoys extra-small classes, with one teacher for every nine students. What's more, the teachers are exceptionally qualified and experienced – each with at least three years of teaching with a wealth of certifications. To ensure optimal student wellness, an on-site full-time nurse is available to provide any necessary treatments or care.
Parents at the school speak highly of it. Here's what one had to say about Island Heights on GreatSchools.org, “My son attended Island Heights elementary and it’s the best school …Great teachers ….The way they sent up how you get in and out the building is awesome, well secured …great programs.”
Woodfern Elementary School
425 Woodfern Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Woodfern Elementary is a top-rated public elementary school nested in Neshanic and is part of the Hillsborough Township Public School District. The school serves roughly 400 students in grades K-4. Woodfern Elementary prides itself on creating a ‘family' atmosphere, earning a 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school runs an active Home and School Association(HSA) that funds and organizes numerous afterschool activities that enrich the curriculum. The HSA supports programs such as the Interacts Program, Family Math, Family Science, Intermurals, Newspaper Club, and After School Enrichment.
Woodfern Elementary students excel in standardized tests, with 75% attaining proficiency in English and 74% in math. The school also offers numerous special programs, such as art, world language, music, and physical Education. It also runs a gifted program, commonly identified as REACH. All second graders undergo screening to determine if they qualify for the REACH program in grade three.
The school offers small classes, with one teacher for every nine students. It also has a full-time social worker and nurse that addresses the kids' social and health needs. Parents are happy about their experience at the school, citing the faculty's care and concern for the kid's academic, social, and emotional well-being.
Best Middle Schools
Thomas Jefferson Middle School
75 1st Street, Lodi, NJ 07644
Founded in 1933, Thomas Jefferson Middle is a public middle school in Lodi that falls under the Lodi Public School District. It initially served as a junior/senior high school and later converted into a middle school in 1973 after the construction of the Lodi High School. The school caters to the academic needs of roughly 719 students in grades 6-8.
GreatSchools.org gave the school an overall 10/10 rating. The student's performance on standardized tests is exemplary, with 85% attaining the proficiency mark in English. Additionally, 15% undertake an Algebra 1 course with a 100% pass rate.
The school has relatively small classes that allow teachers to provide individualized attention to each child. The student-teacher ratio at the school is 13:1. Besides a highly qualified faculty, the school has a full-time nurse, law enforcement officer, and security guard.
Former students at the school speak highly of their experience there. One student notes that their grades skyrocketed, and they were able to make many new friends. They go ahead to say that the overall experience was good. The school is an excellent pick for families within Lodi searching for a comprehensive education for their kids.
Markham Place School
95 Markham Place, Little Silver, NJ 07739
Markham Place School is one of the two schools in the Little Silver Boro School District, serving fifth to eighth-grade students. The school offers an academically rigorous program to 380 students, which factors in the unique learning styles of the kids. GreatSchools.org gave Markham Place a 10/10 rating.
The Common Core and Next Generation curriculum standards provide a continuous growth approach to instruction, learning, and skill development. The success of this unique teaching model is reflected in the school's performance in standardized test scores. 94% of students attain proficiency in English and 88% in math.
Markham Place students participate in various extracurricular activities that help build on their talents and interests. Your child may have the opportunity to join clubs such as Cyber Patriots, computer, yearbook, and the student council. Additionally, they may participate in sports like baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, track, and cheerleading.
The school has small classes, with one teacher for every nine students. Furthermore, all teachers are certified, and 93% have over three years of teaching experience. Markham Place also has a full-time nurse and social worker among its support staff.
Jersey City Global Charter School
255 Congress Street, Jersey City, NJ 07307
Jersey City Global Charter School offers a unique curriculum to the 371 students in K-8. The school focuses on providing inquiry-based learning that encourages the development of high-level reasoning and critical thinking skills among its students. GreatSchools.org gave the school an impressive 10/10 rating.
Jersey City Charter School students perform at or above their grades thanks to the rigorous curriculum. On standardized test scores, 88% attain proficiency in English, while 75% gain proficiency in math.
The school boasts of having small class sizes, with one teacher for every twelve kids. This allows the students to receive individualized instruction. Jersey City Global Charter School also has a MicroSociety program, where students create and manage real-world systems like businesses and government. The program creates a miniature society at the school, allowing students to practice what they learn in a “real world” setup.
Parents at the school are full of praise for the administrators, teachers, and overall school environment. One parent notes that the school challenges the students to strive and excel, with the teachers providing the extra push needed.
Best High Schools
Bergen County Technical High School-Teterboro Campus
504 Route 46 West, Teterboro, NJ 07608
Bergen County Technical High School(BCTS)-Teterboro Campus is a public magnet high school serving ninth to twelfth-grade students. The school is part of the Bergen County Technical Schools District, with a population of roughly 666 students. It provides college preparatory academics alongside exceptional technical training, earning the school a 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
BCTS-Teterboro offers a full-time honors program with nine technical concentrations, including automotive engineering and design; culinology; aerospace engineering; computer science; commercial art and design; fashion design and merchandising; law and justice; digital & media arts; and strategic asset management.
Students at the school ace the college entrance examinations. 92% sit for SAT, with the school having an average score of 1,370. 34% opt for the ACT, with the school recording an impressive average score of 31.
The school provides students with numerous opportunities to earn college credits. The school offers 23 advanced placement courses, with 66% of students participating. Additionally, 85% participate in dual enrollment classes, with students getting adequate preparation for the Student Occupational Competency Achievement Test.
BCTS-Teterboro offers its students numerous extracurricular activities to develop their interests and talents. The school fields over 35 athletic teams in NJSIAA. Parents at the school are proud of its academically-rigorous environment and staff sensitive to the development of the students.
Bergen County Academies
200 Hackensack Avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601
Bergen County Academies, a public magnet high school in Hackensack, NJ, part of the esteemed Bergen County Technical Schools District, offers an incomparable educational experience to over 1,100 students from ninth through twelfth grade. The school provides a unique high school experience, combining comprehensive academics with technical and professional courses.
Bergen Academies offers seven specialized programs in technical concentrations of math and science; engineering and design; medical science; business and finance; visual and performing arts; culinary arts and hospitality administration; and technology and computer science.
The school boasts a 99% graduation rate, with 95% proceeding to a college or vocational training program. 85% of its students take SATs, with the school recording an impressive average score of 1,479. 46% take the ACT and have an average score of 33.
Students at this institution have a plethora of educational opportunities available to them. With 96% participating in dual enrollment programs, they can get ahead on college credits while still attending high school classes. In addition, the 15 advanced placement courses and expansive selection of art, music, and performance classes provide something for everyone. Plus, there's an exciting STEM program, too – inspiring every student to push their boundaries academically.
Despite the large student population, the school maintains small classes, with one teacher for every twelve students. Parents rave about the school, terming it the best STEM/STEAM school in N.J.
Ronald McNair Academic High School
123 Coles Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School is a top-rated public school within the Jersey City Public School District. The school caters to roughly 699 students in grades 9-12. The school aims to provide a challenging college preparatory curriculum focusing on intellectual excellence, personal development, and civic responsibility. GreatSchools.org gives the school a 10/10 rating.
The school does an excellent job preparing kids for college. All students take the SATs, with the school recording an average score of 1,279. 26% take the ACTs, with an average score of 29.
McNair Academic High School is impressive for its 100% graduation rate and 95% of graduates enrolling in college or vocational programs. Students are given a chance to challenge themselves even further by taking advantage of their 26 advanced placement courses, all available to each student enrolled at McNair.
Outside the classroom, students can enlist in various athletic teams, clubs, and organizations. The school offers 16 sports alongside 63 clubs and organizations. The school is an excellent choice for families searching for an academically-rigorous environment for their child.
Finding the Right School for Your Child
New Jersey has a robust education system to cater to the huge population in the state. It is home to numerous top-rated schools with unique curriculum approaches. From elementary schools offering traditional curricula and public charter middle schools with unique pedagogies to college preparatory high schools with a technical training twist, you can find a school that fits every student type.
The list above can provide an excellent starting point in your search for the ideal school to enroll your child.