The following article comes from an Everett School District news release:
For the last four years, U.S.News Education has ranked the nation’s high schools, using state test scores and statistical predictions of 1) how well students at each school “should” be doing, based upon their socioeconomic student populations, 2) how well black and Hispanic students are doing and 3) how well-prepared students are for college.
Two of Everett Public Schools high schools were among U.S.News Education medal winners for the first time this year. This year’s awards are based upon the most recently available national data – that from school year 2009-10.
The first of the three progressive criteria for earning a U.S.News medal is an evaluation of test scores of students of low income families to determine if those scores are higher than the school’s socioeconomic enrollment would predict. Based upon test scores of students registered for free and reduced lunch at both schools, Jackson and Everett high schools passed the first filter and moved into position to be considered for the next two criteria.
“The algorithm that U.S.News uses to make its statistical prediction isn’t publically available,” explains Catherine Matthews, the district’s director of on-time graduation. “We know that the scores of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch at Cascade High School have also improved – and that their graduation rate has gone up. We don’t know what the U.S.News cut off line is that kept Cascade from moving to criteria number two.”
Criteria number two is an evaluation of test scores for black and Hispanic students – measuring whether those students perform better than the state average. Everett High and Jackson High’s black and Hispanic students did outperform the state’s black and Hispanic students. “Ironically, Cascade’s black and Hispanic student scores were higher than Everett High’s,” Ric Williams, curriculum and assessment director said. “The progressive nature of the U.S.News filtering process eliminated Cascade from the ranking, in spite of the very impressive work being done at Cascade with all students.”
Criteria number three is an evaluation of how many seniors take AP exams and score at least a “3” on those exams. The U.S.News formula established a 16.3 AP Ranking as the required threshold for schools to meet criteria number three. Then it rank ordered all schools in the nation with at least this 16.3 AP Ranking.
The top 500 schools in the country with the highest AP score ranking earn gold medals. The next 501 to 2,008 schools with at least a 16.3 AP ranking earn silver medals.
Jackson High School met the first two criteria, has a 26.5 AP ranking (well above the 16.3 requirement) AND was among the nation’s top 500 AP ranking schools. Thus, JHS is considered number 1,285 in the nation, according to U.S.News and stands in spot number 34 in Washington state.
Everett High School’s success with the first two criteria earned the school a bronze medal – an award given to only 2,869 schools in the nation that met the 16.3 AP Ranking.
Allison Larsen is the district’s curriculum and humanities specialist and also tracks district AP scores. “It is very interesting that Cascade High School’s AP ranking of 17.4 was well above the 16.3 threshold. This tells us that while it’s great to have an outside, national organization take an unbiased look at school performance, no one way of analyzing performance is perfect.”
“This is one of many outside measures of how well Everett Public Schools is preparing students to lead and shape the future,” noted Superintendent Gary Cohn. “It’s a testament to staff, students and our community’s support that two high schools earned spots on the list this year. Without a doubt, we’ll have more schools on the list in the future – just as we have steadily increased the number of K-12 Schools of Achievement each year.”
Cohn is referring to the dramatic increase in the number of K-12 schools that have earned state honors for sustained student learning improvement. “Three years ago, only one of our schools earned that honor; two years ago, four were on the list. Last year we celebrated seven of our schools as Schools of Achievement. This year, 11 schools and Port Gardner Parent Partnership are on the state’s achievement list – nearly half of the schools in the district. Sustained, continuous improvement is evident across the district.”