Academic Rivalry: New rankings examine high schools’ performances
May 24, 2012
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Alex Richards ’14 | Staff Writer
Recently a study released by U.S. News and World Report ranked South High School as third in the state out of the 826 high schools in Michigan and 391 out of the 21,776 public schools reviewed in the nation, but North didn’t earn a ranking. This raises the question, why isn’t North on the list?
According to North Principal Tim Bearden, North High School was inadvertently omitted from the U.S. News list. The achievement results posted would have placed North as number 12 in Michigan and 636 in the nation based on college readiness, student to teacher ratio, and math and reading proficiency, Bearden said.
“In general I think these rankings are poorly conceived, and poorly executed, and their omission of North in this case despite the fact that their own rankings model would have us in the top 650 schools in the country and the #12 high school in Michigan is evidence of that fact,” said Bearden in an e-mail.
U.S. News has been contacted about the error, but the publication has yet to respond, Bearden said.
“Using the information provided only from the U.S. news website, we should be ranked # 12 in Michigan and # 636 in the nation. This national ranking is actually higher than rankings from other services. Unfortunately, it appears there has been a mistake of omission as we are not ranked anywhere,” said North Principal Tim Bearden in an e-mail.
“The Focus is more academic here (at South) and it definately helps South’s status. More students tend to take AP (Advanced Placement) courses and it shows a stronger commitment to academics,” said Zach Hasenbusch ’14 of South’s ranking.
However, the amount of students taking AP courses is not that different. South has a 56 percent participation rate whereas North has 55 percent participation rate. The main difference is the students that pass these AP exams. At South 84 percent of the students taking the test pass, while 66 percent of particpants pass at North.
Furthermore, South scored 49.4 on the College Readiness Index, almost nine points higher than North. College Readiness Index is based on student performance on college based entrance exams, such as AP tests. The two schools may have a similar participation rate, but South has a higher pass rate thus giving them a higher ranking than North.
“At North, there are more students with a lower socioeconomic status and it determines how you perform,” said advanced placement American government teacher Michael Rennell. “I have taught at both and you can get a great education.”
Socioeconomic status is another area in which the two high schools differ. At South, 7 percent of the about 1,600 students are economically disadvantaged. While at North, 14 percent of the about 1,400 students are economically disadvantaged.
According to the 2011 Michigan Merit Exam results, 88 percent of South’s students were proficient or advanced in reading while 78 percent of North’s students were proficient or advanced. In math, 81 percent of South students were proficient or advanced while North achieved 65 percent. In both categories, South and North were well above state averages, which were at 63 and 52 percent, respectively, earning proficient or advanced scores, according to www.michigan.gov.
“Both schools are well equipped but maybe the focus on tests and academics is what is creating such a large gap,” said Maren Prophit ’15.