Wednesday, June 10, 2009

High school rankings (Go Holmes!)

Newsweek has published its 2008 data analysis of public high schools by the college-level work they offer. Their headlines focus on what they see when they divide Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge tests given by of seniors graduating, with their full lists available here. Those results puzzle me because they count tests taken but not passed.

The chart above draws on another part of the Newsweek data, showing the percent of all seniors who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school. As is my habit, I looked first to see which schools with high poverty were producing important results, and Covington's Holmes High School definitely stands out this time.

Newsweek's discussion how and why they did their analysis is here, along links to a variety of supporting articles about the schools and their strategies.


  1. Tests taken but not passed?! Really?

    Well, you just have to disregard the whole measure then, right? Any system that measures school performance based on such inputs isn't worth a cent. That Holmes can top the list with only 10 percent of its seniors scoring a 3 makes this suspect.

    I doubt we'll be seeing an influx of new enrollees from Highlands, Ryle or Beechwood to Holmes any time soon.

  2. Richard,

    If I was moving to northern Kentucky, I'd want my kids to have a shot at excellence in a setting with ethnic and economic diversity--and that data would make Holmes the first high school I considered.

  3. Susan,

    Well, as a northern Kentucky refugee I know you're right about that. Nice parry.

    But the whole measure still seems very suspect to me.

    One wonders how diverse that top ten percent - your child's hypothetical peers - would be?

  4. Aggressive enough tracking can certainly net out to something close to two separate schools in one building---and that's definitely one thing I'd be watching for if I was choosing where to live in Northern Kentucky.

    Oddly, that helps me see some value in the main Newsweek statistic: Holmes gave more AP tests than it had seniors, which seems to suggest relatively wide participation in AP classes. Danville, E'town, Apollo, and Lafayette are examples of schools that didn't make that cut.


Updates and data on Kentucky education!