The two schools were cited as as bronze medalists in the magazine’s 2008 “America’s Best High Schools” report.
The two schools were selected based on a methodology developed by School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education data research business run by Standard & Poor’s.
U.S. News & World Report analyzed 18,790 public high schools from 40 states using data from the 2005-06 school year. Schools did not enter the contest, but were selected by public data.
“This is the first time they’ve done this,” said Goessel Superintendent John Fast. “They call it their first annual best of the best of education awards, and from what I can gather, this is a very legitimate award they pass out.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, a three-step process was used to determine the best high schools across the nation.
The first two steps used state proficiency standards to ensure that the high schools served all students well.
Schools that passed the first two steps were assessed to the degree students are prepared for college-level work.
“This award, associated with the other achievements that have been gained by the district over the last year with the Standard of Excellence through state testing and the report that Mr. (Dale) Honeck (HHS principal) gave on the ACT scores, they all underscore the excellent educational program we have here for our kids,” said Hillsboro High School Superintendent Doug Huxman.
“What our goal will have to be is to strive to continue to keep that in place and improve upon what we have achieved to this point.”
The top 100 high schools nationwide with the highest college-readiness index scores were ranked numerically and awarded gold medals.
The next 405 top-performing high schools were ranked based on the college-readiness index and earned silver medals. One school in Kansas, Blue Valley North High in Johnson County, received a silver medal.
Of the additional 1,086 high schools that passed the first two steps and were awarded bronze medals, 38 of those schools were from Kansas.
So why is the ranking important?
“I think it’s a tribute to the quality of our staff and our students, and I think the community we are in that we would be selected for this type of an award,” said Mark Grout, GHS principal.
“It’s important not only for us to know we are headed in the right direction with our academics, but to show that even a small, rural community and school certainly will provide as good or better education as large districts and large schools.”
Honeck was quick to join Grout in attributing academic success to the school staff on both the pre-high school and high school levels.
“It isn’t just a measure of what a high school does,” Honeck said. “When kids come into ninth grade, they are high-school ready— they’ve had a great middle school and elementary school experience.
“They are ready—they have been taught how to learn, they are anxious to learn, they have all those things that you want when a kid comes into high school.
“We (staff at the high school) don’t have to turn them around and pump up the tires, so to speak.
“If you want to be successful, our teachers can deliver the curriculum and it appears that if you learn here, you can compete with kids from across the country and do better than many of them.”
Honeck said parental involvement goes a long way to boost a school’s standard of excellence.
“I have to commend the parents,” Honeck said, “because anyone will tell you that without parents behind education, the results are not nearly as high.
“Parents are really the key to education, and the more they are connected to this school, the more influence they have over their student’s learning.
“We have good parents that care about their kids—they expect their kids to come to school and learn, and they expect the school to teach them,” Honeck said.
“And that’s a great combination for good results.”