Algonquin back in Newsweek top 500

Above: Glory days are back for Algonquin, which returned to a national list of top high schools in the country. (photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

Newsweek published its annual list of top 500 high schools. Algonquin Regional High School was ranked #129 for the nation.

The “absolute list” of 500 schools focuses on College Readiness scores.* ARHS placed 8th for Massachusetts.

In 2013, the school was also on the list, but in a much lower placement. That year Newsweek listed 2,000 schools. But since Algonquin ranked 443, it seemed surprising when the school failed to make the top 500 lists in 2014 and 2015.

It turns out that the magazine’s changed methodology (continued this year) only included the top 30% of schools from each state. (This year, 18 MA schools were listed, down 30 from 2013.)

Still, it doesn’t account for changes from year to year since.

Hopkinton ranked 93 last year, and Shrewsbury 128 in 2015 and 148 in 2014. Neither made the list this time around.

Meanwhile, Westborough ranked 35th in 2014, was left off the list in 2015, and now returns at #99. (It’s 5th for the state).

It makes me wonder if data actually fluctuates that much. Or is it partly caused by the way data is retrieved. The magazine explains that its methodology relies on a survey of schools to collect the information:

We surveyed schools identified in the threshold analysis to collect college readiness
data. The web-based survey asked for basic demographic information, graduation rates, college
enrollment rates, number of full-time equivalent (FTE) counselors, number of students taking the SAT
and ACT, average SAT and ACT scores, percentage of students taking at least one advanced placement
(AP) course, percentage of students taking one international baccalaureate (IB) course, percentage of
students taking one advanced international certificate of education (AICE) course, the schools’ students’
AP/IB/AICE scores, number of students participating in dual enrollment courses, and number of dual
enrollment credits earned. Using these data, we developed a college readiness index score based on six
variables: counselor FTE (weighted at 10 percent), changes in 9th-grade to 12th-grade enrollment rates
(10 percent), a composite SAT/ACT score (17.5 percent), a composite AP/IB/dual enrollment score
(17.5 percent), high school graduation rates (20 percent), and college enrollment rates (25 percent). The
rankings are based on schools’ college readiness index scores. For the absolute list, schools are ranked
according to their college readiness index score.

*Newsweek published two lists. The second “relative list” is of schools that “beat the odds” based on information about a significant percentage of impoverished students. Obviously, Algonquin didn’t make that list.

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