Washington High School achieves notable ranking

Published 5:56 pm Sunday, December 16, 2007

By Staff
Earns a bronze medal for academic quality, exceeding expectations
By CLAUD HODGES, Senior Reporter
Washington High School is ranked in the top 9 percent of public high schools in the United States and has a bronze medal to show for it, according to U.S. News and World Report.
There are more than 18,000 public high schools in the United States, and Washington High School is within the best 1,591 of them, the magazine reports.
Washington High School has 1,122 students enrolled this school year.
The U.S. News and World Report article was titled “America’s Best High Schools.”
A three-step process determined the best high schools. The first two steps ensured 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.
The first 100 high schools fell into the gold-medal category. The next 405 high schools fell into the silver-medal category. The next 1,086 high schools, including Washington High School, fell into the bronze-medal category.
Statewide, 34 high schools were on one of two lists. No state high school ranked in the top 100. In North Carolina, six high schools won silver medals, and 28 high schools won bronze medals.
U.S. News and World Report said it set some clear criteria for academic quality in its new ranking of American high schools. To make the cut, schools must provide a good education for their entire student bodies, not just for some of their students. The schools must do good jobs preparing their students for post-secondary education opportunities.
The difference, which was significant, according to Holloman, between the U.S. News and World Report’s study and other publications’ studies of high schools is that U.S. News and World Report gathered information on low-income students and minority students while looking at the entire student population’s overall academic achievements.
Newsweek, according to U.S. News and World Report, makes an annual study that rates the best high schools in America, and its studies focus on high academic achievements while touching lightly on minority issues and post-secondary education preparation in the trades.
In a story about the ratings, Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News and World Report, said, “To be a very good school performing at a very good level is not enough. We’re looking at schools that are exceeding expectations.”
Kelly also said it is important to measure schools based on how all students are doing, not just the high achievers.
The principal said the school was unaware that Washington High School was being studied by the magazine. He said all the evaluations involved with the study came from the state level, meaning that the data the study interpreted came from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh.
Washington High School programs providing skills for work after high school include college-preparatory courses, military training (an ROTC program) and a technical-trades division that includes drafting, masonry, agriculture and aquaculture.
Holloman said the study shows that Washington High School has “the mark of a good school.”