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What are public school rankings based on?

I’m a high school student with my eyes set on securing a slot at a good college. I have read from various sources that one’s high school ranking affects, to some degree, college selection. I don’t know how true this statement is but I’m glad that my school does well in the school district rankings.

I have come across various websites that give best school ratings for schools all over America. Therefore, I’m especially interested in knowing how public school rankings are done.

What aspects do these websites use to rate your school?

Carlton Burgess

in Schools

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Kaitlin Dean on March 2, 2018

Basically, every website has its own methodology which they use to arrive at best schools’ ratings. Most use some or a combination of the following factors:

  • Student academic performance.

This is a measure of the average score on state or national exams that students in each school attain. Many factors are considered in gauging performance. This includes the economic background of the area, the expected performance and number of students with special needs. A school that has a high number of economically disadvantaged students who perform higher than expected may rank highly in rankings of public schools.

  • Teacher performance and output.

In many of these websites such as Niche, teachers are graded to determine the quality of their output. Teachers play a big role in how their students perform both academically and in extracurricular activities. A school with well trained, committed and performing teaching staff will most likely rank highly. This however is considered with various other factors in play.

  • Diversity and cultural inclusivity.

A school should be diverse in terms of the student population. Diversity covers racial, cultural as well as economic backgrounds. When vetting student performance, the number of African American, Hispanics, whites is compared. Therefore, in some instances, a school may rank higher than another in district school ranking even if the latter has a higher average academic performance.

  • Graduation rates.

This is the number of students who graduate high school compared to the total number of students enrolled. A school that successfully ensures that most if not all their students graduate will probably rank higher than that with high drop-out rates.

  • The students’ college preparedness.

High schools are required to prepare their students for college before they graduate. This includes showing them what to expect when they join college, counseling them on how to select a career path and choosing an appropriate college. A high schools’ final year students can be evaluated to assess how ready they are to enter college.

  • Parents and student reviews.

Most, if not all sites, depend on this aspect for their rankings. You will find reviews for high schools in various review websites or the particular schools’ website. These reviews show the rate of satisfaction or dissatisfaction by parents and students of a particular field. They may also indicate the positive and negative aspects of a school in question. Your school will rate highly if it has favorable feedback on review websites.

Kayla Bowena year ago

I would disagree with this view because it represents an ideal but not real situation. This is to mean that the best school ratings should be arrived at using this method and not what many sites use. The current rankings indicate the use of either reviews or state scores. There are factors that should be taken into consideration that are largely overlooked.

My opinion therefore is that you shouldn’t give much thought to the position your school ranks in. This will have minimal effect (if at all any) on your college acceptance. Other factors will prove to be more important for a successful college application.

Work on your grades, prepare for entrance exams and do a career assessment test. These will help you know your strengths, weaknesses, limitations and opportunities available to you. You can also check out college rankings as they portray a more honest assessment of the institutions.


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