Newsweek list of top high schools: 55 Georgia schools among 1,600

We all say that we don’t care about these lists of best schools, but then we frantically search to see if our schools are on them.

Start searching as Newsweek is out with its best high schools issue.

Georgia is not represented in the top 20. Our first appearance is slot No. 79 and that is Cobb’s usual high scorer, Walton.

Newsweek picks the best high schools in the country based on advanced placement college-level courses and tests. Just over 1,600 schools— six percent of all the public schools in the U.S.– made the list. In the list of 1,600, there are 55 Georgia high schools, most from metro suburban systems.

Critics discredit the methodology used to assemble the Newsweek list each year, but I still would have liked to have seen my local high school earn a spot in the very top tier.

Was yours on the list?

121 comments Add your comment

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
11:31 am

Yes we can see how a Newsweek article could be more important than a mulit-million dollar E-Rate scandal that we were told to “check back shortly” to read about several days ago.

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
11:44 am

Yes, Maureen, drop everything else you’re doing. NOW!!! This is America, land of the microwave brownie. I’m sure googling for 10 minutes would give an in-depth expose, that’s considered research by most folks.

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
11:49 am

Nice try Aquagirl but “NOW” has nothing to do with it.

It was Maureen herself who asked readers to “check back shortly” for a blog on the E-Rate scandal. Days ago. And of course your suggestion for her to google it exposes your ignorance on the issue, as there is no need for Maureen to google, as her colleagues at the AJC have already done enough research on the issue to land it on the front page of the AJC.

But if you want to be an apologist for Maureen not keep her word as a “watchdog” please feel empowered to do so.

fred smith

June 14th, 2010
11:57 am

Hm. “Best” high schools based on AP exams. Can you spell “proxy for socio-economic status” (i.e., how much mommy and daddy make)?

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
11:59 am

And besides, who cares about those liberal commiepinko rankings, based on stuff like AP tests? What kind of values are those? They didn’t even consider football teams in the rankings. Thank goodness we don’t have those eggheads cluttering up Georgia.

Annie

June 14th, 2010
12:04 pm

I’ve read Newsweek’s own blog of how they comprised the list. Elite high schools that have higher numbers than average of students taking AP tests were automatically left off the list and high scores on AP tests were not measured. The only thing measured were numbers of students taking AP tests, so to get on the list, all a high school has to do is sit their entire senior class down and have them take an AP test. The list means nothing. As a high school student I took 3 advanced placement classes but elected not to take any AP tests. Why? Because based upon my grades, SAT scores, and high school courswork alone, I automatically qualified for college courses that “skipped” and gave me credit for basic college courses, with no AP tests required. The Newsweek poll exemplifies everything wrong with our education system. You cannot measure education quality by testing alone.

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
12:07 pm

OMG, days! If say, a source doesn’t call/ e-mail right back, just make it all up Maureen. It’ll cut so much of that boring delay out of reporting.

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
12:12 pm

So, some on this blog decry that public schools do not offer courses that challenge our children and then when schools are “rewarded” because they do offer and students partake of the opportunity of taking challenging courses, i.e. AP, IB, it is disregarded as “nothing”?

While, the list in and of itself does not make a high school “the best”, I applaud these schools in their attempt to challenge their students above and beyond their everyday requirements.

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
12:15 pm

Aquagirl, again you miss the point. The reporting has been done. Usually, if a story leads the front page of the Sunday paper, someone’s done some reporting. Especially when they end the story with a heading called How We Got The Story.

If it were really a matter of waiting on a source of new information, I’m sure Maureen, in her role of blog moderator is allowed to post words to that effect.

Maureen is allowed to post comments here, am I correct?

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

June 14th, 2010
12:21 pm

I, too, would like to get an update on e-Rate. I think we’re all looking for reassurance that the AJC still has fangs long enough and jaws wide enough to get the piece of rump it needs to go after. So maybe just tell us that something’s in the works, and give us a reasonable expectation of when to expect it…?

teacher

June 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

The first thing that struck me about the list is that out of the top 5 schools on the list, 4 of them are in “Southern” states. And in looking at the top 20 there are none in the states I usually think of as high achieving (Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania) have no representation. Not sure if there is a conclusion to draw there, but I thought it was interesting.

Atlanta Exec

June 14th, 2010
12:24 pm

I realize this ranking is just one measure of quality, but given the size of metro Atlanta, why is it that we only have 1 HS in the top 100? For better or worse, if I’m a parent moving to Atlanta from areas like Scarsdale or Bellevue, these rankings are going to be the first thing I look at and when people do look these things up, more often than not, they reinforce the stereotype that Georgia (or at least most areas of Georgia) do not value education much.

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
12:26 pm

Just to confirm, Maureen is allowed to post comments on here, correct?

BlondeHoney

June 14th, 2010
12:35 pm

Glad to see my boy’s high school in Miami made the list again at 34, Coral Reef HS; Coral Reef is Miami-Dade county’s only all-magnet school and everyone must apply to attend. The school is divided into academies (my boys attended the Legal and Public Affairs and International Baccalaureate academies) and my boys received an outstanding education there. Georgia could learn a lot from Fla schools IMHO

Cobb Parent

June 14th, 2010
12:36 pm

Maureen, I think there are more than 20 schools in the top 1,600. There’s 3 pages with 20 max displayed per page so you may have missed the others.

As for my opinion on this, I think AP exams should be stressed at the high school level but I also think stressing AP exams by forcing more people to take these exams by watering down the courses really does a disservice to the students. So, these rankings are things to consider but we really shouldn’t judge schools based on this one metric. I also want to point out that many schools offer post – AP classes that are not included in these data. Also, I noticed that Newsweek also includes an E&E number. This seems to be the percentage of students that graduate having passed at least one AP exam, which imo is also something to consider.

So all in all, good job to the schools that make the list but remember that this is just one of many factors that imo determine school quality.

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
12:41 pm

Urgent, it’s been less than 15 minutes since you asked that question. I think that says it all.

From the AJC June 6th story: “Officials with the Atlanta Public Schools took 14 days to respond to written questions from the Journal-Constitution about the wireless contract.” I’ll wager these people don’t even respond quickly to requests they like.
As an AJC reader/subscriber, it’s just my personal opinion that I don’t think it’s too long between updates. Two other reporters obviously devoted a considerable effort on a paper short on staff. Other folks feel differently. I’ll stop participating in the off-topic hijack now.

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
12:44 pm

Aquagirl, it was Maureen herself who said “check back shortly” not someone else. And as others have pointed out, nothing prevents Maureen from explaining why she didn’t keep her word to her readers.

Funny you mentioned how the AJC pointed out how long APS officials took to the respond, as it turns out the AJC is engaging in the exact same behavior with its readers.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

June 14th, 2010
12:47 pm

@ aquagirl: Compelling argument. I’ll join you in no longer hijacking the thread. : )

Urgent

June 14th, 2010
12:52 pm

Is it hijacking a thread when the blog moderator herself fails to keep her word, or is it merely holding her accountable to her readers?

Dekalb Mom

June 14th, 2010
1:00 pm

Is Georgia still funding 2 AP tests per student next year? If not, it seems to me like it would be increasingly difficult for schools serving lower income students to achieve a high ranking on this measure.

Color me confused

June 14th, 2010
1:04 pm

Blondehoney

It is easy for schools who select their students to make these lists, in fact of the top 10, only one school seems to be open to all students.

Many of Florida’s traditional schools are absolutely dismal.

GA doesn’t need more lessons in how to build a dismal school, thank you.

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
1:05 pm

Initially, in the upcoming budget, the state was only going to pay for AP/SAT/PSAT tests for those students receiving free/reduced lunches. I believe the Governor returned that funding to the budget? Maureen, did I get that right?

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
1:12 pm

Which school in the top 10 was open admission? I noticed the same thing—the list is populated by magnet and other “restricted” schools. It’s important info for people willing/able to place their kids, but not much for anyone else. (Which is not a dig at Blondhoneys of the world, I say get your kids the best education possible.)

Concerned Parent

June 14th, 2010
1:18 pm

The thing about these ratings is that even if they aren’t the best measure of school quality, they sell magazines and parents by and large do actually base home purchasing decisions based on this info. If you have all the parents who care only moving into certain school districts, then of course those districts will do well in the rankings. And that’s something I wish magazines like Newsweek would consider.

Cobb Teach

June 14th, 2010
1:22 pm

Good to see 12 Cobb County high schools make the list this year. I’ll be looking forward to seeing future lists to see how well they fare after the job cuts.

Maureen Downey

June 14th, 2010
1:23 pm

@Dunwoody, He struck the elimination of those programs – which means they can be held. But he did not put new any money in the budget for them, saying he would work with DOE to shift the money to them.
The unofficial response from DOE was: What money is there to shift?

Maureen Downey

June 14th, 2010
1:26 pm

@Cobb, There is a search mechanism that pulled up all the Georgia schools, including some ranked around 600. But your note made me realize that I checked only the top 600. You are correct. We have 55 all told when you go the entire list.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
1:29 pm

Ah, got it, Maureen – thanks. A political move.

Maureen Downey

June 14th, 2010
1:31 pm

To all, I have to correct my original count: Apparently, I did only search the top 600. When you go to the next a thousand,we have 55 schools all told in the entire list.
So, again we have 55 in the entire list.
My apologies.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
1:31 pm

This is a quote from Newsweek on this list:

“We do not include any magnet or charter high school that draws such a high concentration of top students that its average SAT or ACT score significantly exceeds the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country. This year that meant such schools had to have an average SAT score below 1,975 or an average ACT score below 29 to be included on the list. “

Lynn

June 14th, 2010
1:34 pm

Obviously paying for AP exams boosts a school’s ranking. In the FAQ of the Newsweek rankings, the author states that he disregards that very important factor in the rankings. While it is great to have a high number taking AP exams, it is not good that schools are forcing students into AP exams at the expense of the student’s grades which despite the usual protests to the contrary are considered before the rigor of the courses taken.

Forcing unqualified students into AP classes also waters down the course by forcing teachers to spend more time catching up the ones who don’t belong in the class in the first place.

Cobb Parent

June 14th, 2010
1:37 pm

Maureen, I think after you select Georgia, look at the top or bottom right where it says Page 1 or 3. Click next and you can see the other schools. I’m pulling up 55 schools with Camden County at 1511 pulling up the rear.

Attentive Parent

June 14th, 2010
1:39 pm

I saw Riverwood was the next Georgia school on the list at # 148.

Can you update this article to specify the names of all the Georgia schools?

Those commenting on too many students taking AP classes might enjoy this blog:

http://betsyspage.blogspot.com/ . It is written by an AP US History and AP Government teacher and lately has been profiling the hysterically wrong answers some are writing in response to AP questions.

MiltonMan

June 14th, 2010
1:50 pm

Berkmar is better tha Milton??? Only in a liberal rag like Newsweek.

HS Principal

June 14th, 2010
2:00 pm

I would like someone to reach out to me and have me understand how this list is produced given my school has consistently placed high and suddenly left out this year. My school’s #’s warrant a high ranking! What happened?

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
2:00 pm

Lynn, while, I agree with you that rigor of courses is important to a college, I can only tell you from the conversation with one of the colleges that my child is looking at – an out of state college – they are also looking for advanced courses in foreign language and an AP Math class. Admittance to a competitive college will look at the entire repetoire of a student, grades, rigor of course, SAT scores, Advanced classes. They want a student that goes beyond the minimum requirements. To me, that equals AP courses.

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
2:01 pm

HS Principal, perhaps your school did not submit the information.

Lynn

June 14th, 2010
2:19 pm

I agree Dunwoody Mom that some rigor is necessary, if for no other reason than to give students a taste of what college courses will be like in terms of study, reading, etc. My complaint is schools that push students into 10 or 12 AP courses telling the students that is the only way to get into a good college. If the student makes a B in the AP course versus the A in the Honors course, the student has been harmed more than he has gained by taking a more rigorous course. I think many schools push more and more AP courses to make lists such as this without thinking of the best interests of the students.

Color me confused

June 14th, 2010
2:21 pm

The school in Oregon appears to be a traditional public school. Newsweek’s criteria is baloney. Go google some of those magnet schools and look at the criteria to enroll and to remain. Many of them require 5 credits each of core subjects to graduate.

I am not knocking those schools, I am saying just be real.

lyncoln

June 14th, 2010
2:23 pm

They did mention that there are 21 schools that were deemend “too elite” to be on the large list of schools.

Those schools are listed in a separate article at: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/13/america-s-best-high-schools-in-a-different-class.html

Odd that the super elite schools were taken off the list because they are magnet schools or highly competitive for admission. But the main list clearly has magnet and other semi-competitive schools. Seems like it was a very arbitrary method of picking which list a school was on.

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
2:27 pm

Wow, 10 or 12 AP courses is WAY too much.

Cobb Parent

June 14th, 2010
2:31 pm

Lynn, Dunwoody Mom I’m not sure that I agree that 10 or 12 is way too much. It really is up to the child to determine how much he or she can handle. My son will graduate taking 17 AP classes and of the ones he has taken so far, he’s only made one 4 and the rest fives. He’s also active in sports and finds time to unwind every weekend with friends. We’ve actually pushed him NOT to take so many, but he’s ambitious and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think you might be surprised at how many students can handle a lot of AP courses and still do well through efficient time management and good study habits.

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
2:32 pm

Cobb Parent, how does you son take all those AP classes and his required classes? Just curious.

Aquagirl

June 14th, 2010
2:32 pm

@ Dunwoody mom 1:31, those are still pretty high scores, especially in states that are below average. Using the *national* standard might explain why so many Southern schools are on the list. The level of “skimming” would increase as the State’s average score decreased.

Places like Eastside (#17) benefit from being combined magnet schools. I’m sure the culinary arts students are very smart, but their test scores may be below the average of the IB students, who load up the AP courses. Kind of a twofer.

David S

June 14th, 2010
2:34 pm

But of course the only way your child can get into one of these schools is if you have enough money to afford a residence in the district (assuming they don’t move the district lines or close the school down). Sounds like a great way to run a system of education. And the free market is a problem why?

Keith

June 14th, 2010
2:42 pm

Pretty funny how the top 11 schools in the state are mostly white schools. Tells ya something huh?

Dunwoody Mom

June 14th, 2010
2:46 pm

Which schools are you referring to?

A dad

June 14th, 2010
2:48 pm

Shame Newsweek doesn’t take inbreeding into account. Georgia would have scored much, much higher.

plc

June 14th, 2010
2:49 pm

Lynn,
Getting a B in an AP class rather than an A in an honors class isn’t necessarily a negative. Schools look at the motivation of a student through the level of classes they take. Colleges also take the high school into account – they know certain schools are more rigorous than others.

I don’t see how allowing any student to take an AP class waters it down. The students have to work harder, but to me, the same expectations are there. My school is on the list, and we’ve consistently had not only high numbers of students take the test, but also make 3 or higher. However, we also have lots of tutoring and other opportunities in place to help with student success. It’s become an atmosphere at our school where the norm is to go above and beyond with AP classes, and the students definitely meet the challenge.

No, it’s not the only sign of a good school, but I want my daughter going to a school where high standards are commonplace. Too many people on this blog complain about how the standards are too low, and AP classes are one way to go above that complaint. However, this list comes out and so many are quick to say this isn’t valid. What else could be more reliable and valid? High standards, nationally comparable, and much harder to cheat – you can trust this more than any of our state tests!

Cobb Parent

June 14th, 2010
2:52 pm

Dunwoody Mom, I think AP classes count towards the core curriculum as well. That leaves health, PE and maybe some electives that you can’t satisfy with AP. Not sure how if this is the case across the state, but in Cobb you can take several electives and health and PE during the summer, which many students do.