US News and World Report gives Algonquin high marks – especially for STEM

by beth on May 2, 2019

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Another set of high school rankings made the news, and Algonquin with it.

US News and World Report issued its annual rankings – this time expanded to evaluate data from more than 23,000 across the country. Those were winnowed down to the 17,245 determined worth comparing. Algonquin finished in the top 6% of those.

In addition to expanding its rankings, the magazine adjusted its methodology this year. Under the new method, ARHS was ranked 42nd in the state out of 342. It was #978 in the nation.

The school also received an impressive ranking among those the magazine labeled STEM High Schools:

To determine the top science, technology, engineering and math schools, U.S. News looked at the top 1,000 public schools from our latest Best High Schools rankings, and then evaluated their students’ participation and success in Advanced Placement science and math tests.

US News ARHS 2019 ranking factors

(click to enlarge)

ARHS came in at #117 in the nation.

You can see the factors used for the overall rankimgs and where we came out nationally on each by clicking on the image right.

I know that some of you will want to know how our public high school compared to neighbors.

Nearby AMSA (Advanced Math and Science Academy) in Marlborough ranked 2nd in the state and #157 nationally. Based on that, and the school’s focus, I was surprised to see that only ranked 6 spots ahead of us for STEM schools.

We ranked lower than two abutting towns overall – but higher as a “STEM” school.  Hopkinton was ranked 6th in state, #266 in nation, and #159 for STEM. Westborough came in at 15th in state,  #488 in nation, and #135 in STEM.

We outranked other neighbors’ schools (which didn’t make the cut for STEM rankings). Those include Shrewsbury (47th in state and #1,071 in country), Ashland (60th and #1,282), Framingham (95th and #2,185), and Marlborough (193rd and #5,260). 

Given the massive weight US News gave to college readiness in the rankings, it’s not surprising that our technical/vocational school didn’t fare as well.* Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School ranked only 270th in the state and # 10,374 nationally.

As I always state whenever these rankings come up – I take the assessments with more than a grain of salt. There are several ranking bodies out there with different methodologies and it seems that they’re always adjusting their math on how to compare schools. Over the past several years, ARHS’ and neighbors’ rankings have widely varied by year and source.

For instance, ARHS failed to make the magazine’s rankings under last year’s methodology, while Shrewsbury (plus higher ranked Hopkinton and Westoborough) did.  And competitor Newsweek ranked the school 8th in the state and #129 nationally in 2016. Westborough ranked higher, but Hopkinton and Shrewsbury failed to make those rankings for the top 500. But in the prior year, ARHS didn’t make Newsweek’s ranking.

That said, it’s always a good feeling when our schools rank well.

You can check out the magazine’s full report here and Algonquin’s data here.

*Don’t write in mad! I know that Assabet has programs that prepare students for college bound careers. But it also has many programs specializing in students graduating straight to vocations that don’t require college degrees and the preparatory AP exams. Those students are factored against the school in it’s rankings even though pursuing college degrees and racking up college debt doesn’t make sense for their career paths. It’s just one more example of how cookie cutter rankings to compare the best schools across the country can be flawed.

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