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HILLSVILLE — Before closing its doors on the 2012 academic year, Carroll County High School educators learned of a nationwide recognition for student achievement.
U.S. News magazine did a statistical analysis of high schools and awarded Carroll high a “bronze” ranking in a website feature called “Best High Schools,” at usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.
“We reviewed 21,776 U.S. public high schools,” the report says, and “96 Virginia schools made our rankings.”
Carroll joins 58 other secondary schools in Virginia as a bronze award winner, according to Principal Scott Watson. In addition, 18 schools in the state received the gold rating and 19 silver.
“So we’re in the mix and that’s really exciting,” Watson said. “It’s an impetus for us to continue to grow and improve. It’s an impetus for continuous improvement.”
In Virginia, there are 133 school districts with 347 high schools.
U.S. News ranked 4,877 schools nationwide as gold, silver or bronze rated, according to the report.
U.S. News based its findings on college readiness, geometry proficiency and reading proficiency scores.
“At Carroll County High, students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams,” according to the website. “The AP participation rate at Carroll County High is 8 percent.”
Charts included with the article show that Carroll High students performed near the state average on geometry and near average on reading tests.
On the geometry testing through the Standards of Learning, 72 percent of the students had proficiency, where 17 percent of the 246 participants had advanced scores.
In reading, 52 percent of the 277 students earned proficient scores and 42 percent had advanced scores.
Also factored in were the testing results of economically disadvantaged and ethnic students, who in Carroll County performed better than the state average, Watson said.
The report explains that high school students take Advanced Placement tests “to earn college credit and demonstrate success at college-level coursework.”
“U.S. News calculated a college readiness index based on exam participation rate and percentages of students passing at least one exam.”
This index, based on 2010 AP test scores, determined which medals were awarded to qualified schools.
Carroll High scored below the state average for college readiness, which Watson believes kept the school from getting a higher level of recognition.
The principal noted that the analysis doesn’t take into account the school’s healthy enrollment in dual credit courses, which result in both high school and college credit. Watson believes that dual credit courses are also a strong indication of college readiness.
“Bronze medals: An additional 2,869 high schools that passed the first two steps in the methodology were awarded bronze medals and are listed alphabetically,” the report says. “A bronze medal school either does not offer any AP or IB courses, or its college readiness index was less than the median of 16.3 needed to be ranked silver.”
The principal adds that AP test scores continue to improve since the 2010 results used in the survey, after the school implemented a kind of “survival guide” for students and parents on the higher expectations of the Advanced Placement courses.
This is an attempt to better prepare students in terms of study skills, time management and test taking strategies, Watson said.
The main goal of educators should be to ensure that their students will be successful after moving on to the next stage in life, and these additional study skills will do that, he said.
“Our teachers have responded quite well to the added challenges of the recent more rigorous testing the state has required,” Watson said. “I’ve seen them make every effort to provide additional tutoring and even mastery based opportunities in the classroom for our kids to succeed.”