|Highlands High School in Fort Thomas continues takes a big jump in 2020 US News and World Report school rankings. (FTM file)|
by Robin Gee
The US News and World Report annual school rankings are out and once again Highlands High School in Fort Thomas is among the nation’s top high schools. Ranked the number one non-magnet high school in Kentucky, number two in the state overall and number four in the Greater Cincinnati area, Highlands had a strong jump from number 354 in the nation in 2019 to number 242 for 2020.
In 2019, the US News and World Report introduced new methodology in their ranking system that allowed for the inclusion of more schools. Because of this, it was difficult to compare the 2019 rankings with that of previous years. The new 2020 ranking provides a clearer picture of the progress from the prior year.
Many attribute Highlands’ sharp rise in the rankings to the introduction in 2018 of the Portrait of a Graduate initiative. The goal of the initiative is to graduate students with the skills that prepare them for college and beyond. The school district implemented Portrait of a Graduate after researching the issue of college and career readiness for about a year, tapping into the country’s leading education experts and visiting top ranked schools across the country.
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The publication ranked 17,792 schools. Rankings are determined based on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates.
A new scorecard ranking was also added in 2019 that ranks schools based on AP exams, math and reading proficiency and graduation rate. Highlands drove its scorecard ranking up from 97.95 out of 100 to 98.64 this year.
Highlands High is one of only two Northern Kentucky high schools to make the state’s top ten high schools. Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell also made the state’s top ten. A total of 380 high schools were ranked across the state.