Administrators in the Westerly and Chariho school districts are reacting to the latest annual national public high school ranking by US News & World Report.

Westerly was ranked 22nd in Rhode Island and 6,754th nationally. Chariho was ranked 6th in the state and 1,892nd nationally.

Released on April 29, the publisher's “Best High Schools” rankings evaluated schools based on six criteria: college readiness, math and reading proficiency, math and reading performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth (12th grade students who took a variety of advanced placement exams) and graduation rate. Private high schools were not ranked, because they usually do not require their students to take the same standardized tests.

The sources of study data were the U.S. Department of Education, state test results and graduation rates for the years 2016 and 2017, and for the advanced placement test data, College Board data for 12th grade students, also for 2016-2017.

This year’s report was produced using a new methodology that ranked a far greater number of schools.

“U.S. News nationally ranked roughly six to seven times as many schools as in its previous edition,” the publication stated on its website. “It similarly expanded its state-level rankings, magnet school rankings and charter school rankings. Under U.S. News' revamped 2019 rankings methodology, more than 17,000 public high schools, an increase from more than 2,700 last year, are numerically ranked nationally using a formula made both simpler and more comprehensive.”

The top high school in the nation in the ranking is Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston, S.C. The report lists the top three high schools in Rhode Island as Classical High School, Barrington High School and East Greenwich High School. 

Westerly Superintendent of Schools Mark Garceau said he was pleased that Westerly High School was among the top 25 in Rhode Island.

"While we're pleased to be in the top 25 in the state, where we really want to be is at the top," he said.
 
Under Principal Michael Hobin's guidance, Westerly High School is poised to steadily improve, Garceau said. Hobin started his current assignment in July and is working in collaboration with the school's assistant principals May Toscano and Kevin Cronin. Cronin moved to the school this school year from his previous position at Westerly Middle School.
"We have new leadership at the high school that we think is already paying huge dividends," Garceau said. He noted that the graduation rate has improved and that with Cronin's work on expanding career and technical education offerings, as well as tweaking other available courses — including an array of AP classes — the school would increasingly be the "number one choice" for students.

Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said he was satisfied with the high school's ranking in the report and attributed the difference in ranking, from third last year to sixth this year, to the study’s revised methodology.

“The US News & World Report confirms our thinking about Chariho High School,” he said. “Building leaders, faculty, and staff have worked incredibly hard to maintain high expectations for student work products and conduct. The ranking for 2019 is based on a new, more comprehensive ranking system, so comparisons to past rankings are inappropriate. Any time that we place in the top six in the state is good news, and we're number one among schools with a career and technical center, which is more good news.”

All three of the highest-ranked high schools serve Rhode Island’s more affluent communities, a factor Ricci said did not affect Chariho’s score.

“I don't mind the comparison at all with more affluent communities. My job is to make sure the students of Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton are well-served, along with those who attend the regional center from other communities. I believe that our students receive top notch public education,” he said.

The full report is available online at: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings

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