U.S. News and World Report gave out its annual report cards this week, 17,000 of them to every high school in the nation, with so-so results for Eastern Washington.
The best earned only a solid B, with most falling in the middle range of 364 schools statewide.
The national report was revamped this year to place more emphasis on how many students take and pass Advanced Placement or similar exams, and how well they fare on state-required math and reading tests.
The report, which was released Tuesday, also gives extra weight to how well schools serve low-income and minority students.
At North Central High School, 55% of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, but the school has a 91% on-time graduation rate – the highest in the Spokane Public Schools district – and a college-readiness score that was tops in the region.
That probably helped North Central finish 49th out of 364 public schools in the state, Principal Steve Fisk said.
“We encourage kids to take at least one AP class,” Fisk said. “And that’s a reflection of the staff supporting these kids and giving them confidence.”
Fisk said that predictors of student failure in AP exams are often far off the mark.
“They miss it 28% to 33% of the time, saying that a kid will get a 1 on the (AP) exam, and they get a 2 or a 3,” Fisk said. “That’s the reason we want to make this investment.”
The highest-ranked school in the region was Pullman at 27th. Others in the top 50 statewide include Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls at 40th, Central Valley at 42nd and Ferris at 45th.
Among larger Spokane-area schools, Lewis and Clark ranked 66th, University 53rd, Rogers 91st, Shadle Park 109th, Mead 146th and Mt. Spokane 216th.
In all, 12 of the 20 public high schools in Spokane County finished in the top third of the statewide rankings.
The rankings include public magnet schools as well as alternative schools.
Led by the International School of Bellevue, Puget Sound-area schools took 18 of the top 20 spots in the state.
However, tiny Bridgeport High in north-central Washington finished ninth overall, with 61% of its seniors deemed college-ready despite 84% being classified as economically disadvantaged.
Liberty Bell High School in Methow Valley ranked 18th.
In Idaho, Coeur d’Alene High School ranked 25th out of 142 schools statewide. Lake City was 44th and Post Falls was 64th.
The top-ranked school in Idaho was Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy.
The study examines six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates.
Specifically, college readiness measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and other exams.
The new methodology assigns weights to the six factors and then produces an overall score on which the ranking is based.
Because of changes in methodology, this year’s rankings are not comparable with previous years, U.S. News said.
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