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2016 U.S. News and World Report Best High School (Huntland High School)
Posted On:
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
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Huntland High School Awarded Bronze Medal by U.S. New and World Report

 Since 2010, Huntland High School has been identified three times by U.S. News and World Report as a BEST HIGH SCHOOL and now has gained this title once again for 2016. This means that Huntland High School has carried the title of BEST HIGH SCHOOL in 2010, 2012, 2014, and now 2016. Each of these years Huntland High School has been awarded the bronze medal. Of the 734 Tennessee high schools, the 2016 U.S. News Best High School rankings included six gold medals, 21 silver medals and 96 bronze medals.

To produce the 2016 Best High Schools rankings, U.S. News & World Report teamed with North Carolina-based RTI International, a global nonprofit social science research firm. RTI implemented the U.S. News comprehensive rankings methodology, which is based on these key principles: that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators. The firm started by reviewing 28,561 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In a major change to the Best High Schools rankings methodology, U.S. News added a new step this year focused on graduation rates. High schools that make it past the first two steps of the methodology, which remain unchanged and are detailed below, now have to meet or exceed a national standard high school graduation rate to be considered top-performing schools and to be ranked at a national level. This marks the first time graduation rates have been used in ranking high schools at this scale. As part of this effort, U.S. News has published graduation rates for all high schools on its website for the first time. 

 National Rankings
A four-step process determined the Best High Schools.

 • Step 1: The first step determined whether each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for students in that state.

This process included looking at reading and math results for all students on each state's high school proficiency tests. Factors included percentages of economically disadvantaged students – who tend to score lower – enrolled at the schools to identify schools performing much better than statistical expectations. To pass Step 1, high schools' performance had to be one-third of one standard deviation above the average. This threshold was applied to a school's performance compared with what would be statistically expected for that school in its state, based on its percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
U.S. News made one important change to Step 1 in the 2016 rankings. This year, for the first time, an absolute performance adjustment was used. This enabled the 10 percent of schools with the highest absolute performance on each state's reading and math assessment tests to automatically pass Step 1. In addition, schools in the bottom 10 percent of their state’s reading and math assessment test results were barred from passing Step 1. U.S. News made this adjustment to reward schools for exceptionally high performance on state assessment tests, regardless of their poverty level, as well as to prevent schools with exceptionally low state assessment test performance from being able to win a gold, silver or bronze medal.

• Step 2: For schools passing the first step, the second step assessed whether their disadvantaged students – black, Hispanic and low-income – were outperforming disadvantaged students in the state.

Factor 2 included comparing each school's math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students with the statewide results for these student groups and then selected schools that were performing better than their state averages.

• Step 3: U.S. News introduced a new Step 3 to the methodology for the 2016 rankings. Schools now have to meet or surpass a basic benchmark for their graduation rate.

As with the assessment data used in the previous steps, high schools' graduation rates were collected from each state. Although there is some variation in how states calculate graduation rates, the foundation of all states’ calculations is the percentage of first-time ninth-graders who were awarded diplomas four years later. For the 2016 rankings, the graduation rate reflects the 2014 cohort – students who entered ninth grade in the 2010-2011 school year.

• Step 4: Schools that made it through the first three steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step – college-readiness performance – using Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmark for success, depending on which program was largest at the school. This step is unchanged and was Step 3 in past U.S. News Best High Schools rankings. 

In total, U.S. News nationally ranked the 6,218 highest-scoring schools as gold, silver or bronze depending on their CRIs.

• Gold medals: Schools with the highest unrounded College Readiness Index values were numerically ranked from No. 1 to No. 500 and were the gold medal winners.

• Silver medals: The high schools ranked from No. 501 to No. 2,673 were the 2,173 silver medal winners. Only schools with CRI values at or above 20.17 received this medal because that was the median – the statistical midpoint – of all the College Readiness Index values among high schools with AP or IB test-takers.

• Bronze medals: An additional 3,545 high schools that passed the first three steps in the methodology were awarded bronze medals and are listed alphabetically. A bronze medal school either does not offer any AP or IB courses or its College Readiness Index was less than the median of 20.17 needed to receive a silver medal.

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