right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
We’ve got a new look! Walk through the key updates here.

America's Best High Schools

CTTCCTTC 2111 replies126 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,237 Senior Member
edited December 2007 in Parents Forum
America's Best High Schools - US News and World Report

***
Schools on this list weren't allowed on Newsweek's list.
edited December 2007
54 replies
Post edited by CTTC on
· Reply · Share
«134

Replies to: America's Best High Schools

  • astrophysicsmomastrophysicsmom 4160 replies166 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,326 Senior Member
    Going back through the last two states we've lived, there are some questionable entries, IMO---makes me question their measurement criteria (but who's surprised?!!) Oh well.
    · Reply · Share
  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch 2418 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,449 Senior Member
    USNWR's formula makes much more sense than Newsweek's AP-based one, but I think you're mistaken about whether schools can be on both lists. There are plenty here that are also on Newsweek's.
    · Reply · Share
  • MarianMarian 13159 replies83 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,242 Senior Member
    In my opinion, this list seems to be heavily skewed toward schools that have the advantage of good input -- that is, their students have either been selected for prestigious magnet programs or come from affluent areas where a high value is placed on education.

    I have nothing against Thomas Jefferson and Stuyvesant, but part of the reason for their success is that all of their students are the sort who can qualify for Thomas Jefferson or Stuyvesant.

    In my own area (Montgomery County, Maryland) the three schools that qualified for the top 100 (Wootton, Whitman, and Churchill) are the three that serve the most affluent areas of the county and have such a reputation for academic excellence that people deliberately move into those neighborhoods (and pay premium prices for the privilege) just to get their kids into those high schools. No surprises there.
    · Reply · Share
  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch 2418 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,449 Senior Member
    Marian, ditto on Westchester County - the schools here that made this list are from the absolute most affluent towns.

    I just meant that it's at least a somewhat more thoughtful way of calibrating than the how-many-APs-list.
    · Reply · Share
  • MarianMarian 13159 replies83 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,242 Senior Member
    Well, on the other hand, there are plenty of schools from affluent areas that did not make the list.

    I grew up in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where certain towns just ooze with money. There isn't a single Fairfield County school on the top 100 list.
    · Reply · Share
  • newmassdadnewmassdad 3792 replies56 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,848 Senior Member
    The USNWR rankings are much closer to the Newsweek rankings than may be apparent. They both use the AP participation rate as the most important ranking factor. USNWR uses a pre-screen before applying their AP formula, and uses the data in a somewhat different way, but the end result is still similar.
    A three-step process determined the best high schools. The first two steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using state proficiency standards as the measuring benchmarks. For those schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step assessed the degree to which schools prepared students for college-level work.

    College readiness. The first step determined whether each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in their state. We started by looking at reading and math test results for all students on each state's high school test. We then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students (who tend to score lower) enrolled at the school to find which schools were performing better than their statistical expectations.

    For those schools that made it past this first step, the second step determined whether the school's least-advantaged students (black, Hispanic, and low-income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state. We compared each school's math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students with the statewide results for these disadvantaged student groups and then selected schools that were performing better than this state average.

    Schools that made it through those first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step: college-readiness performance, using Advanced Placement data ... This third step measured which schools produced the best college-level achievement for the highest percentages of their students. This was done by computing a "college readiness index" based on the weighted average of the AP participation rate (the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those AP tests or quality-adjusted AP participation (the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher) at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school).

    So, if you believe Jay Matthews, enjoy the rankings. If you think the evaluation of HS is a bit more nuanced, then think twice. Remember that AP participation rates can be affected by things as simple as having the state pay for the exams, like Florida.

    It's curious that a HS that had two classmates selected as Rhodes Scholars this year at their respective colleges barely made it into the second (silver) tier of HS, i.e. the top 500.

    I also noticed that the majority of the top 100 seem to be magnet schools, charter schools or exam schools - each with selective admissions requirements. And the few that were not seem to be in very high SES areas.
    · Reply · Share
  • collegealum314collegealum314 6683 replies85 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    Some of the math and science academies aren't listed...I searched for them and they weren't even rated at all.
    · Reply · Share
  • JHSJHS 18283 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 18,353 Senior Member
    If I understand the way these rankings were determined, they essentially favor the schools that do best by the worst students in the school. Which is not such a bad way of looking at things, but easily accounts for the fact that a school that produced two Rhodes Scholars in one class might not make the top 100. (There are a lot more schools with silver and bronze medals.)

    In Pennsylvania, there were only two gold medal schools, both from the Philadelphia area. One is the smallest of the city's academic magnet schools -- no surprise there. The other is what I would have thought of as a second-tier, striving suburban school. If you were looking at elite college acceptances, this school wouldn't make the top 10 among its area suburban peers, much less qualify as the second-best public high school in the state. But it's entirely possible that the school does a better job of having the bottom closer to the mean.
    · Reply · Share
  • CTTCCTTC 2111 replies126 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,237 Senior Member
    I think you're mistaken about whether schools can be on both lists. There are plenty here that are also on Newsweek's.
    Right you are. I was imprecise in my previous statement. I should have added the qualifier that some schools aren't allowed on Newsweek's list.
    · Reply · Share
  • Beil1958Beil1958 599 replies94 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 693 Member
    What's up with Hidalgo County, Texas? Most (not all, but most) of these schools are in affluent, metropolitan areas; whereas Hidalgo County is an area with a ton of problems, a burgeoning population that leads to a wide array of issues, and it's situated in far South Texas, right on the border with Mexico. Believe they have 3 schools in the top fifty or sixty on this list. Wonder how they do it? Good for them!
    · Reply · Share
  • newmassdadnewmassdad 3792 replies56 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,848 Senior Member
    they essentially favor the schools that do best by the worst students in the school.
    I don't think this is accurate, but the article is a bit light on specifics regarding their methodology. However, to quote USNWR:
    To make the cut, schools have to provide a good education across their entire student body, not just for some students. And they must be preparing students for postsecondary opportunities.
    I interpret this to mean that across the board performance, including that of low income students, is a threshold requirement. Unfortunately, it appears to me when I examine the detailed data that this threshold is (unfairly?) tilted toward schools that have small numbers of minority and poor students, as it appears much easier to have adequately performing minority/poor students when they are only 1-2% of the student body.

    It is interesting to look for true "public" schools (i.e. open admissions) in the top 40.

    The first is #5, Montpelier High School in Vermont. Enrollment, 410. Minority enrollment not available, but 17 percent poverty. I don't know the school or area, so can't comment.

    The next public school is #11, Hidalgo High School in Texas. 100% minority and 90% poverty. Looks like a real outlier?

    Next is #28, Edgemont Junior-Senior High School in Westchester county NY. 1.9% minority, 0% poverty! Easy to make the screen with those demographics.

    # 33 is Highland Park High School, Highland Park, Tx, surrounded by Dallas. 3.7% minority 0% poverty. This school is in one of the highest SES areas in all of Texas.

    #34 is Thomas S. Wootton High in Montgomery County, MD. 10.2 minority and 4.2 poverty. This HS is part of a county-wide system in what is demographically one of the more affluent counties in the country.

    #37 Langley High in McLean, VA. 4.2% minority 0.8% poverty. Like horses? You'll love McLean. One of the wealthiest communities in the nation.

    Note that of the top 40, exactly 6 are "normal" public HS.
    · Reply · Share
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 38240 replies463 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 38,703 Senior Member
    The two schools from WA on this list are located in the wealthiest part of the Eastside (MSFT backyard). I highly doubt there are too many lower income kids at those schools, since even people with median income can barely afford to buy or rent in this area.
    · Reply · Share
  • atomomatomom 4618 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,659 Senior Member
    Surprising how few states are represented--most states don't have a single school on the list.
    · Reply · Share
  • newmassdadnewmassdad 3792 replies56 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,848 Senior Member
    atomom,

    Interesting point, which I suspect is due to several reasons:

    - the whole project depended on NCLB style state test results. Ten states and DC did not make the needed data available.

    - Since we still don't have a national standard for this testing, each state does it differently, using different standards and different test content. Hence comparing results between states is difficult and subject to spurious results. Yet they did so here.

    - AP test participation is critical to these rankings. Yet each state has its own approach to AP courses and testing (including no state approach in some states). Again, this contorts the results in unexpected ways.
    · Reply · Share
  • GretaGreta 597 replies106 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 703 Member
    Just looked at the schools listed for our county and I am going to have to look more closely at the methodology used to create this list. The list for our county does not accurately reflect what are commonly known to be the best high schools here. In fact, I don't know that anyone local would have put a few of the names on this list, including parents of kids in the listed schools.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity