In the recently released U.S. News & World Report 2015 Best High Schools List, fourteen public schools in Montgomery County received mentions. These schools include Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Blair, Churchill, Damascus, Einstein, Gaithersburg, Magruder, Northwest, Poolesville, Richard Montgomery, Rockville, Wheaton, Whitman, and Wootton.
For many, the list served as a reflection of the school environment as well as of the staff and students.
“We feel so fortunate that our students love to learn and challenge themselves. Our students are inspired by their teachers who are dedicated to their achievement, well-being, and future success,” said Poolesville principal Deena Levine.
“This honor is representative of all the hard work and dedication that my amazing staff bring each and every day to our students. I am most proud of all our staff and all our students. The goal is to bring their “A” game every day!” explained Lance Dempsey, the principal of Northwest.
U.S. News considered 19,753 public schools in the country, and determined their rankings through quantitative measures such as state-held math and reading test scores and test performance of disadvantaged students.
“The recognition means a lot to us because many of our kids work very hard to achieve academically. We have a high Free and Reduced Meal rate and many of our kids know there is scholarship money available for those who produce academically and with the assistance of a very dedicated staff they frequently receive financial help to go to college. Last year 86% of our seniors went to college on over $19,000,000 in scholarships. So the recognition supports their efforts,” noted James Fernandez, principal of Einstein.
According to U.S. News, the list also identified the top 6,517 schools as gold, silver or bronze medal recipients. These distinctions were based off of their College Readiness Indexes (CRI), calculated from the rate of students who took Advanced Placement or Internal Baccalaureate exams and passed. The CRI was also a factor in ranking the schools.
Cathleen Kong, a junior at Richard Montgomery, however, disagrees with the way U.S. News generates the list of schools. “It’s hard to quantify qualities that make a high school “good,” and it’s hard to decide which qualities matter. If they put “world news best schools list based on test scores” it would be alright, but right now it just seems like test scores are the only things that matter. Other things like quality of extracurricular programs should be accounted for as well,” she explained.
11 out of the 14 MCPS schools received gold medals, while 3 were recognized with silver. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, right across the Potomac River, was ranked 3rd in the nation.
Montgomery County schools swept the first six spots for the Maryland list. Within the county, Whitman ranked first.
“I acknowledge that students, staff, and parents throughout Maryland, and the country all work to help students succeed. I’m proud of the work of the students, staff, and parents at Whitman and thank them all for this fine recognition,” said Whitman principal Alan Goodwin.
Article by the MoCo Student Community Editor Emily Zhang of Richard Montgomery High School