Three Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) high schools have been awarded gold medal status—placing them among the top 50 high schools in the nation—in a new U.S. News & World Report ranking of America’s best high schools.
Thomas S. Wootton High School was named 34th in the nation, Walt Whitman High School was ranked 40th , and Winston Churchill High School was ranked 42nd. They were the only three schools in Maryland to receive gold medal rankings.
“We are very proud of the students and staff at these three outstanding high schools,” said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. “They are providing a learning environment that encourages all students to be successful and are examples of the high standards that are held by all of our high schools."
U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services, analyzed academic and enrollment data from 18,790 public high schools. The study was inspired by a Newsweek magazine ranking—which uses the Challenge Index to rank schools based on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate tests taken.
"The achievements of Wootton, Whitman, and Churchill high schools are a reflection of our commitment as a school system to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed at the highest level,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “It is very gratifying that these three schools are receiving national attention for their excellent performance.”
U.S. News & World Report considered several criteria for the awards.
First, the rankings analyzed performance levels in reading and math on state accountability tests, then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at a school to find which schools were performing better than their statistical expectations.
Second, the analysis determined whether a school’s least-advantaged students (African American, Hispanic and low income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state, by comparing each school’s math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students.
Schools that remained after the first two steps were judged nationally on college readiness, using AP data as a benchmark. A “college readiness index” ranked 12th graders based on AP participation rate before and during senior year and also on how well they performed on AP tests (a pass rate of 3 or above).
Wootton scored 76.6 on the college readiness index, with an 88.9 percent AP participation rate and 79.7 percent AP pass rate. Whitman scored 75.6 on the index, with 81.7 percent AP participation and 85.1 percent AP pass rate. Churchill scored 73.4 on the index, with 78.3 percent AP participation and 89.9 percent AP pass rate.
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 schools on the index earned silver medals. An additional 1,086 schools that passed the first two steps but not the third were awarded bronze medals.