Three High Schools Ranked Among Nation’s Top 100

December 5, 2008
Three Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) high schools have been awarded gold medal status—placing them among the top 100 high schools in the nation—in a new U.S. News & World Report ranking of America’s best high schools. Walt Whitman High School was ranked 44th in the nation, Thomas S. Wootton High School was ranked 54th, and Winston Churchill High School was ranked 57th. They were the only three schools in Maryland to receive gold medal rankings.

"The achievements of Wootton, Whitman, and Churchill high schools are a reflection of our commitment as a school system to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed at the highest level,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “It is very gratifying that these three schools are receiving national attention for their excellent performance.”

U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services, analyzed academic and enrollment data from 21,069 public high schools. The study was inspired by a Newsweek magazine ranking—which uses the Challenge Index to rank schools based on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate tests taken.

"We have high expectations for our students and our schools, and are so proud of the way their success comes repeatedly when measured against national standards,” said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. “Great principals, great teachers and staff, and high standards combine to help us align our efforts with one primary outcome in mind—getting our kids ready for college."

U.S. News & World Report considered several criteria for the awards.

First, the rankings analyzed performance levels in reading and math on state accountability tests, then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at a school to find which schools were performing better than their statistical expectations.

Second, the analysis determined whether a school’s least-advantaged students (African American, Hispanic and low income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state, by comparing each school’s math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students.

Schools that remained after the first two steps were judged nationally on college readiness, using AP data as a benchmark. A “college readiness index” ranked 12th graders based on AP participation rate before and during senior year and also on how well they performed on AP tests (a pass rate of 3 or above).

Whitman scored 76.9 on the college readiness index, with an 83.6 percent AP participation rate and 86.1 percent AP pass rate. Wootton scored 73.0 on the index, with 82.8 percent AP participation and 82.2 percent AP pass rate. Churchill scored 72.0 on the index, with 77.1 percent AP participation and 87.1 percent AP pass rate.

The top 100 high schools nationwide with the highest college readiness index scores were ranked numerically and awarded gold medals. The next 504 top-performing schools on the index earned silver medals. An additional 1,321 schools that passed the first two steps but not the third were awarded bronze medals.

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