A new list of the nations top public high schools is raising as many questions for who is not on it as it is for who is getting honored.
No North Carolina high school ranked in the top 600 on the list released online this week by U.S. News & World Report. While U.S. News gave awards to less academically heralded institutions such as Garner High School, places such as Raleigh Charter, Enloe High, Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill High were unranked.
Whenever you receive this kind of recognition, it shines a spotlight on the hard work of teachers and students, said Stephen Mares, principal of Broughton High School in Raleigh, which was ranked third in the state by U.S. News. Its a good thing.
But the omissions prompted some schools and districts to contact U.S. News to question how the rankings were determined.
If North Carolinas top ranking is at 663, I suspect something is the matter with their methodology, Tom Humble, principal of Raleigh Charter High School, said Wednesday.
Raleigh Charter had been ranked 24th in the nation on the prior U.S. News ranking of best high schools in 2009.
Some school officials are pointing to how U.S. News is listing as N/A the Algebra I and English I state test results for many of the states schools that were used to help determine the rankings.
There seems to be a reporting error that somebody needs to get to the bottom of, said Stephanie Knott, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools spokeswoman.
Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, said the N/A listings didnt hurt a schools ranking. He said that the news magazine decided to consider other state test data that it did not publish when it determined reading and math scores for some North Carolina schools.
Newsweek and The Washington Post also publish their own rankings of the nations top public high schools. What has made the U.S. News list different is that it looks at the scores of all students, not just those taking Advanced Placement exams or going to college.
U.S. News developed the latest list by analyzing data from the 2009-10 school year for 21,776 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The news magazine used state reading and math tests to see whether a school was doing better than expected overall and whether its black, Hispanic and low-income students were exceeding state averages. Schools that cleared the first two hurdles were then judged on their college readiness, based on test data for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
U.S. News gave rankings for 4,877 schools, 73 from North Carolina. No North Carolina school received the highest honor of a gold medal.
While some schools were questioning the results, others were enjoying the new accolades. Garner High School received a bronze medal. Morse said that Garner High got the medal for closing the achievement gap between its advantaged and disadvantaged students.
They dont have the highest test scores in the state, but relative to their level of economic disadvantage, theyre doing better than other schools, Morse said.
Drew Cook, the principal of Garner High, said the accolade is another sign that the school is moving on the right track academically. He said a key to the schools ability to reach out to all its students is that it sets high expectations.
While there are some that question the validity of these kinds of rankings, well just quietly get down to business and do the best job we can for our students, Cook said.