Rankings based on test scores and ability to meet all students’ needs
By Kristen Miller
Of the 772 high schools in the state, Dassel-Cokato High School made the top 20, receiving a silver medal by the US News & World Report in a study released Tuesday.
For the rankings, US News worked with the American Institute for Research in Washington DC, and based its research on “the key principles that a great high school must serve all its students well, not just those who are college-bound,” and used state proficiency benchmarks as indicators. Schools were also assessed on the degree in which they provide college-level coursework.
Though there are 772 high schools in the state, only 136 made the rankings. Of the 136, there were six gold medals, 40 silver, and 90 bronze.
Dassel-Cokato earned a silver and was ranked number 20, while neighboring high schools in Litchfield, Howard-Lake-Waverly-Winsted, or Hutchinson, did not make the list. Delano High School received a bronze medal.
The report noted also, that Minnesota has one of the nation’s highest state graduation rates and flexibility from No Child Left Behind mandates.
With that being said, the study looked at 21,035 public high schools across the nation, with Dassel-Cokato ranked 1,113th.
DC High School Principal Dean Jennissen said that it’s an honor to be selected and ranked among the top 20, particularly when it was something the school didn’t have to apply for.
“It’s great that we’re exceeding expectations and are meeting all students’ needs,” Jennissen said.
The ranking was a result of a three-step process.
First, was determining whether each school’s students were performing better than expected for the average student in the state.
To determine this, the study used levels of proficiency in reading and math.
In reading, 84 percent of the DC students met or exceeded the standards; and in math, 67 percent of the students met or exceeded the standards. Jennissen optimistically noted that the level of proficiency in math hasbeen on the rise over the years.
In both instances, the district’s numbers are above the state average.
Second, was determining whether the school’s least advantaged students (low-income, black, or Hispanic) performed better than the state average for similar students. This was determined by the number of student on free or reduced-price lunches. DC is at 33 percent.
For the schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step was the use of advanced placement tests as a benchmark for success.
This final step was calculated by the percentage of seniors who took and passed the 2010-11 AP tests, known as the College Readiness Index.
Dassel-Cokato’s CPI was 30.7, whereas the top school in the state, Mahtomedi Senior High School, had a CPI of 58.5.
Jennissen also commented that the community is made up of great families, which is a reflection on the students who come into the school.
The ranking is also a true testament of the staff that dedicates themselves to provide good instruction day after day, from kindergarten to the high school level, Jennissen added.
The top 10 schools in Minnesota according to the study are:
1. Mahtomedi Senior High School
2. Edina High School
3. St. Anthony Village High School
4. TrekNorth High School in Bemidji
5. Wayzata High School in Plymouth
6. Minnetonka High School
7. Eagan High School
8. Mounds View High School in Arden Hills
9. Century Senior High in Rochester
10. Irondale Senior High School in New Brighton.
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