May 11, 2005
Newsweek's annual ranking of America's best high schools (using the system devised by Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews) is out, alerting readers to some high-performing but relatively unknown schools. Top dog this year is Jefferson County International Baccalaureate in Irondale, Alabama, which is acclaimed for its rigorous college-prep courses. A school's ranking is determined by dividing the total number of AP or IB tests administered by the number of seniors who graduate. (Private schools and public schools with exclusive admissions policies, such as Virginia's Jefferson Math and Science in Fairfax, are not included in the ranking.) We've harrumphed before about this methodology and will harrumph again in suggesting that passing the AP tests is what really matters (see here), which this study does not account for. But Mathews's list is always provocative and we're pleased to see some charter schools on the list, including Raleigh Charter in North Carolina (#9), as well as a number of public schools with high concentrations of free- and reduced-lunch students. And Mathews's separate essay on innovative schools highlights a number of familiar names, including KIPP Houston.
"The 100 best high schools in America," by Barbara Kantrowitz, Newsweek, May 16, 2005
"How to build a better high school," by Jay Mathews, Newsweek, May 16, 2005
"Other winning equations," by Jay Mathews, Newsweek, May 16, 2005