Schools to beat
Of the nine public high schools that outranked Athens High in Alabama, most have larger populations and wealthier school districts, including Mountain Brook, Homewood, Auburn, Bob Jones in Madison, Ramsay in Birmingham, Virgil Grissom in Huntsville, Vestavia Hills and Fairhope. The two other schools that outranked Athens High are magnet schools that draw students from across normal school zones and offer a specialized curriculum. Athens High’s student population of 879 is 51 percent male, 49 percent female and 35 percent minorities, according to the survey.
The survey said …
The survey ranked 21,035 high schools nationwide, with Athens High ranking 1,579th nationally. Of the best Alabama high schools, two were awarded gold medals, 16 received silver medals — including Athens High — and 72 were considered bronze medal schools. To be eligible for a state ranking, a school must be awarded a national gold or silver medal. Schools were evaluated based on college readiness, math and English proficiency and student to teacher ratio.
• Math and English proficiency scores were a measure of student performance on the state exit exams. Athens High scored 3.3 on both math and English exit exams, meaning 95 percent of the students who took the exam were proficient in math and 96 percent were proficient in English.
• College readiness scores were based on the percentage of 12th graders who pass advanced-placement or AP exams. The top possible score is 100 percent. Athens High scored 23 percent, which is above both the state and national averages. The score means that of the 30 percent who took the AP exam, 21 percent passed.
• Student-teachers ratios reflect the number of students to every teacher in a given classroom. Athens High’s rate is 15:1 or 15 students to every teacher, which is about the state average.
Compare that to the top high school in the nation, The School for Talented and Gifted in Dallas, which scored 100 percent on college readiness; 4.0 and 3.7 respectively on math and English proficiency, meaning 100 percent of its students were proficient in both subjects on exit exams; and reported a 14:1 student-teacher ratio.)
For the results of the survey, including details on how schools are scored, go online to http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.