Grading and Ranking Schools

Explore the public school grading/ranking system, how it works and what it means. Get latest national rankings and read what critics of school grading have to say. Take a look at the nation’s top performing schools as ranked by U.S. News and Newsweek.
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Published February 10, 2013 |
Which States Have the Best Public Schools?
We report on the annual survey by Education Week that lists the status of public education in all 50 states.
The numbers are in that indicate how well the education system in the United States is serving its students. Education Week has released its 17th annual ratings for the quality of education in each of the 50 states, awarding letter grades to schools similar to those found on student report cards. Unfortunately, the report card indicated there is still plenty of work to do for most states across the country, with an average national grade of a C+ overall. However, there were a number of bright spots across the survey as well, particularly in the top rated states where education appears to be thriving in many ways.
“Quality Counts”
The survey, titled, “Quality Counts,” uses six key metrics to grade the quality of education in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The metrics are as follows:
       ·      K-12 Achievement
       ·      Assessment and Accountability
       ·      Transitions and Alignment
       ·      Standards
       ·      Students’ Chances for Long-Term Success
       ·      The Teaching Profession
Within these six metrics are more than 100 indicators that include such factors as graduation rates, education funding and achievement gaps, according to a report on the survey at the Washington Post. Data was collected from sources like the U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau to compile these recent rankings.
Interesting Note on Findings
When discussions on education quality arise, many of them tend to center on school funding. The general school of thought is that the more money that is pumped into public schools, the higher the education quality
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Published November 03, 2012 |
Grading Public Schools: Accurate Assessment or Hype?
Grades are coming out for public schools across the country, and with the report cards come more questions about whether this is the best way to assess school performance.
As No Child Left Behind waivers are doled out to states nationwide, the next question becomes what will take the place of the federal mandate to assure parents schools are up to par in meeting the academic needs of students. Each state is left to its own devices in this regard, creating a sort of scorecards – or report card, if you will – to assess the performance of each individual school in a district. But while report cards may work reasonably well for individual students, grading an entire school district by a single rating system is proving much more challenging.

Conflicts within the Grading System
New grading systems within school districts offer parents a more accurate glimpse into the individual performance of schools much better than national test scores alone. In some states, these grades incorporate a number of factors, which might include standardized test scores, attendance and graduation rates, among others. Parents say the grades are important for helping them choose the best schools for their children. Schools, on the other hand, are concerned that this information may not be an accurate reflection of an individual school’s performance.

Another concern is that new grading systems had to be implemented much too quickly to provide a real snapshot into the performance of an individual school. The fast deadlines, combined with more rigorous standards, may reflect an inaccurate assessment of the number of underperforming schools in any district. Some states are also in the process
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Published May 28, 2012 |
What are the Best High Schools in America? Top 15 Ranked Schools
U.S. News recently released its latest list of the best high schools in America. We’ll take a look at some of the schools on the list and whether the rankings are warranted.
A new report from U.S. News and World Report reveals the top-rated high schools in America, but it is not without its share of accolades and controversy. This list was compiled after the publication carefully analyzed 22,000 high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were awarded gold, silver or bronze medals, based on a range of criteria. While some schools are celebrating their inclusion on the list, others are left scratching their heads, wondering how and why they were selected among so many good high schools across the country.

Three Steps to the Top-Ranked Schools
The creation of the U.S. News list was achieved through a three-step process, which was implemented by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). First the publication looked at student performance, by weighing math and reading scores on high school proficiency tests against the percentage of economically disadvantaged students at the school. Schools that scored higher statistically than the state average were evaluated through the next step in the process.
Next, U.S. News and AIR looked at whether the least advantaged students were performing at a higher rate than the state average. This list included Hispanic, African-American and low-income students. Schools that were performing better than average in this area proceeded to the next step of the evaluation process.
Finally, schools were judged on their college-readiness, through Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data. Both of these programs offer college-level courses across the country, as well as the ability
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Published March 16, 2012 |
Are High Schools Doing Their Job? Not All, Says New Report
A new report by the Center for Public Education found that some high schools are providing a rigorous enough curriculum to prepare students for college, while others are not. What is the definition of “rigorous”? We’ll examine that question and report on study results.
A new report from the National School Board Association’s Center for Public Education found that high schools vary greatly in their ability to prepare students for life after high school. At the core of this study appears to be a very important term that requires precise definition: rigorous curriculum. We’ll take a look at what a “rigorous curriculum” looks like and whether high schools across the country are rising to the task of offering this type of curriculum to their students.

Rigorous Curriculum Produces College and Career Readiness
According to the National School Board Association, a “rigorous curriculum” is required to produce “college and career-ready graduates,” but beyond that statement, the processes involved in reaching that goal become somewhat murky. How do schools know if the curriculum presented to students is “rigorous” enough to ensure success? The report does take the time to define “rigorous curriculum” accurately to make it easier to assess high schools and their ability to prepare students for the future.
First, the website offers a definition of rigorous curriculum that was provided by the National High School Alliance, which reads, “An educational experience that leads to a common outcome – that all students are well prepared for post-secondary education, career and civic life.” The definition goes on to state that rigor is characterized by a “steadfast focus” on increasing achievement through high-level coursework and aligning high school requirements with expectations for both college and career paths.
Rigor and Common Core Curriculum
To help high schools
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Updated October 10, 2013 |
Maryland Schools Ranked Number One – Four Years and Counting
The results are in from Education Week’s annual public school rankings – and Maryland schools take the top spot for the fourth year in a row.
Maryland ranks at the top of the nation's schools - again!
While finals week may still be a long way off for most of the schools across the country, report cards are out for Education Week’s annual assessment of the nation’s schools state by state. For the fourth straight year, Maryland has claimed the top spot in the publication’s yearly ranking of school systems. However, with a top grade of B+, it is apparent that most of the country’s school districts still have a long way to go when it comes to providing the highest possible education to their students.

Quality Counts
Quality Counts is the name given to the most comprehensive assessment of the nation’s schools conducted by Education Week every year. According to Education Week’s website, the rigorous evaluation process provides an in-depth look at the state of public schools across the United States today. In light of the recent recession that resulted in big cuts in education spending for many states, as well as efforts by states to put the education pieces back in order during the slow economic recovery, this assessment becomes even more relevant in providing a snapshot of where the quality of education is heading.
“If the turbulence and waves of hardship brought by the recession have taught us anything, it’s that America will sink or swim in a global economy based on its success educating all of its citizens, not just a privileged few, to high standards,” Christopher B. Swanson, the vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, the non-profit that oversees
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Evaluating Public Schools

Grading and Ranking Schools