Niche updated its annual ranking for best public schools. Algonquin is now ranked the 29th public high school in the state, the lowest rank the website has given the school yet. That’s compared to #23 in 2015, #22 in 2016, and #16 last year.
I don’t have past rankings for Trottier Middle School, but was surprised to see it come in at only #44 in the state. As for the K-12 district rankings, we didn’t get a rank. I’m guessing that they gave up on trying to compare the oddball district structure (individual Towns’ K-8 and combined regional high school).
Algonquin’s rank fluctuations and middling middle school rankings may be partly based on the website’s unusual methodology.
Niche combines data with user feedback. The site, which ranks schools nationwide pitches that feedback is from millions of users. But, when it comes to our region, it seems that user feedback is down to a handful of users. Southborough and Northborough middle schools each had only one reviewer. Algonquin showed 186 – but only about 15 were completed within the last year.
In trying to understand the rank change, I compared ARHS’ “report card” to last year’s. Niche shows that “Academics” and “College Prep” both slipped from an A+ to A and “Administration” from A to B. (In the positive column,”Diversity” improved, from a C to a B-, and “Food” went from a B to a B+.)
Academics is mostly based on test scores. But Niche indicates it relies on “self reported” data from users to calculate 65% of the grade for “College Prep”. And user data comprises half the grade for “Administration”.
The Niche labels this month’s report as its 2019 list of best public high schools in Massachusetts. On it, ARHS was out ranked by three close neighbors:
12. Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School, Marlborough
15. Westborough High School
22. Hopkinton High School
But, Algonquin did score better than some other neighbors:
41. Shrewsbury Senior High School
60. Framingham High School
80. Ashland High School
For those of you interested, here are the schools that came in the top 10:
1. Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science, Worcester
2. Lexington High School
3. Boston Latin School
4. Brookline High School
5. Wayland High School
6. Newton North High School
7. Newton South High School
8. Belmont High School
9. Weston High School
10. Wellesley Senior High School
As for the Middle School rankings, Trottier had an A in Academics mostly based on MCAS scores for Math and Reading. It had an A+ for teachers. Once again, user feedback was part of the ranking process. Trottier was out ranked by some neighbors and fared better than some others:
13. Hopkinton Middle School
21. Sarah W. Gibbons Middle School (Westborough)
47. Ashland Middle School
57. Oak Middle School (Shrewsbury)
93. Robert E. Melican Middle School (Northborough)