C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air has been named one of America’s Best High Schools in 2012 by Newsweek magazine, which ranked public high schools based on their success in turning out college-ready graduates.
“We are excited that our students, parents and teachers are receiving national recognition for their hard work,” said C. Milton Wright High School Principal Marlene Molter. “We will continue to encourage our students to reach the highest level of achievement as we prepare them for college.”
The nation has more than 20,000 public high schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. To compile their rankings, Newsweek invited schools across the country to respond to a survey and assessed more than 2,300 respondents, using data provided by the schools from the 2010-11 school year. The top 1,000 schools were chosen as the nation’s best. The Newsweek rankings are based on the following six components:
Graduation rate (25%)
College matriculation rate (25%)
Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) tests taken per student (25%)
Average AP/IB/AICE scores (10%)
Average SAT/ACT scores (10%)
AP courses offered per student (5%)
More detailed information about Newsweek’s methodology can be found here.
Patterson Mill High School Ranks Among Nation’s Most Challenging High Schools in 2012
Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air has been ranked by Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews as one of the 2012 most challenging high schools in the nation. Matthews recognizes public schools in his “High School Challenge” each year when the number of Advanced Placement or other college level tests taken at a school equals or exceeds the number of graduating seniors.
“The students, faculty and members of the administrative team are very proud to be honored by the Washington Post, for the second consecutive year, as one of the top 1,900 high schools in the United States,” said Patterson Mill High School Principal Wayne Thibeault. “This is indeed a great honor for our community of learners! This award serves as a befitting testimonial to the hard work and rigorous instruction that occurs on a daily basis at Patterson Mill.”
The High School Challenge methodology is explained by Matthews in the following Q&A posted on the Washington Post Web site:
How does The High School Challenge work?
We take the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divide by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. I call this formula the Challenge Index. With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.000, meaning they had as many tests in 2011 as they had graduates, were put on the national list at washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge. We rank the schools in order of ratio, with the highest (19.522) achieved by the BASIS school in Tucscon.
I think 1.000 is a modest standard. A school can reach that level if only half of its students take one AP, IB or AICE test in their junior year and one in their senior year. But this year only 9 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach that standard and be placed on our list.
2. Why do you count only the number of tests given, and not how well the students do on the tests?
Some schools brag about their high passing rates on AP or IB, meaning the percentage of test-takers who scored 3, 4 or 5 on the 5-point AP exam or 4, 5, 6 or 7 on the 7-point IB exam. Passing scores make students eligible for credit at many colleges and universities.
I decided not to count passing rates in this way because I found that most high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses. In other instances, they opened the courses to all but encouraged only the best students to take the tests.
AP, IB and AICE are important because they give average students a chance to experience the trauma of heavy college reading lists and long, analytical college examinations. Research has found that even low-performing students who got only a 2 on an AP test did significantly better in college than similar students who did not take AP.
Reacting to the national rankings for both Harford County high schools, a spokesperson provided the following response from Harford Schools Superintendent Tomback:
“We are extremely proud of C. Milton Wright and Patterson Mill high schools for being named top schools in the nation,” said Superintendent Robert M. Tomback. “We are equally as proud of our staff for their dedication to the success of our students.”