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Monday, December 8, 2008

Highlands Highly Rated in US News

The Fort Thomas education system put another notch on its belt this past week as the latest US News & World Report's ranking of US High Schools again listed Highlands as a top high school.

Highlands was 1 of only 7 high schools in the state of KY and 1 of 604 nationwide with a silver rating. This was quite an accomplishment given that the 604 silver rated high schools were from 21,069 high schools that were rated.

One statistic that particularly stood out to me about Highlands: 816 students enrolled and 38.6% took at least 1 AP exam. An amazing 72.5% exam pass rate. We can be truly thankful that we have the teachers and administration that prepare our children to be successful in college and beyond.

For those interested in the process for ranking I copy the following three steps from the US News website:
  1. The first step determined whether each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. We started by looking at reading and math 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Schools that made it through the first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step, college-readiness performance, using Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success. (AP is a College Board program that offers college-level courses at high schools across the country.) 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 and/or IB participation rate (the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP and/or IB test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those tests. The latter part, called quality-adjusted AP and/or IB participation, is the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher or an IB score of 4 or higher) at least one of the tests before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school.

For the college readiness index, the quality-adjusted participation rate was weighted 75 percent in the calculation, and 25 percent of the weight was placed on the simple AP and/or IB participation rate. Only schools that had values greater than 20 in their college readiness index scored high enough to meet this criterion for gold and silver medal selection. The minimum of 20 was used because it represents what it would take to have a "critical mass" of students gaining access to college-level coursework.

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