When U.S. News & World Report ranks Americas best high schools, it factors in how those schools perform with low-income and minority students. That makes the rankings different from conventional ones done by The Washington Post and Newsweek.
Said a U.S. News researcher: Our methodology makes it harder to get on the list.
All the rankings have their virtues, but the U.S. News ratings carry a distinct and valuable prestige. So its all the higher an honor for the Triangle that six schools made the U.S. News 2014 Best High Schools list.
Green Hope High in Cary was the top North Carolina school on the list, ranking 304th. It was a gold medal winner. Five schools were granted silver medals as being in the top 2,000 nationally and deserve a bow: Panther Creek High in Cary, Cary High, Holly Springs High, Kestrel Heights in Durham and Hillside New Tech High in Durham.
Some schools that often rank highly (and deservedly so by conventional measures) were not on the list because minority and low-income students were not achieving at a level high enough.
Teaching a cross-section of students, and getting them to perform well, is a special challenge for all schools. The U.S. News rankings are an attempt to recognize those who meet the challenge.
They also show that for all the criticism public schools receive these days from some politicians in North Carolina, teachers in state schools are getting the job done, day after day. And they are doing so despite a pay rate that is 46th nationally.
That must change if other schools are to be so honored.