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U.S. News study puts Polk County High among nation’s top schools

A recent study that placed Polk County High School among the top 10 percent of the nation’s public high schools has left local schools officials quite proud of the achievement.

U.S. News & World Report studied and ranked more than 21,000 public high schools across the country using a combination of criteria. The study awarded gold, silver and bronze medals as well as assigned a numerical ranking to those schools that met all of the study’s requirements.

Polk County High School ranked 2,190th nationally and also earned a silver medal from U.S. News. Polk County High ranked 36th among 591 North Carolina high schools in the study.

Polk County Early College did not meet all the criteria to earn a numerical ranking, but the school did earn a bronze medal, one of 6,517 schools in the nation to earn one of the three medals. Bronze medal schools passed two of the three steps in U.S. News’ ranking process but either didn’t offer Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes or had fewer than 10 students taking those exams.

Data compiled in the rankings came from the 2012-2013 school year.

“Congratulations to the students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff of Polk County Schools,” said Polk County Schools superintendent Bill Miller. “Polk County High is to be congratulated for this wonderful recognition. However, we believe this recognition comes from the hard work of everyone associated with our schools, especially our community and taxpayers that provide such support for our schools.

“Polk County High teachers would be the first to acknowledge the hard work of our elementary schools and middle school in helping our students obtain the skills needed to be successful in high school.”

To determine the high school rankings, U.S. News used three criteria:

1) Schools had to perform better than statistically expected compared to other schools in the state on standard reading and math tests, given their population of economically disadvantaged students.

2) Disadvantaged students had to perform better than statistically expected compared to other schools in the state as judged by math and reading proficiency rates

3) For those who passed the first two steps, schools were judged nationally using Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate rates to determine which schools produced the best college-level achievement on those tests. U.S News developed a measure called a College Readiness Index which looked at how many students took one of the advanced exams and what percentage of those students passed.

The top 500 schools after all three steps earned gold medals, with schools not in the top 500 but above the median score earning silver medals.

“The U.S. News and World Report ranking speaks to how well a school serves all of its students, not just those who are planning to attend a four-year college or university,” said Polk County High principal Mary Feagan. “Polk County High School works hard to prepare every student for life after high school, and it is gratifying to be recognized for those efforts by this prestigious publication.”

For more information:

Polk County High details

Polk County Early College details:

North Carolina schools rankings

All schools rankings

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