U.S. News & World Report released its 2016 Best High Schools list Tuesday, and the rankings brought mixed news to the Muscogee County School District.
The good news is that Columbus High School improved its ranking from No. 3 to No. 2 in the state and from No. 85 to No. 80 in the nation, and, for the third straight year, Early College Academy of Columbus and Kendrick High School are bronze medalists, which aren’t ranked.
The bad news is that the number of Muscogee County schools U.S. News honored this year dropped from five to three. Jordan High School and Spencer High School, which were bronze medalists for the first time last year, aren’t on the 2016 list.
Columbus High principal Dr. Crumbs told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email, “We are very excited about the state and national rankings that we received. Columbus High School’s students, teachers and parents work together seamlessly to make great things like this happen. The unwavering support of our alumni association and the emphasis that the Muscogee County School District places on Advanced Placement courses has also been a direct contributor to our continued success. I want to thank all our stakeholders for their dedication to our mission to be the ‘Best of the Best.’”
MCSD superintendent David Lewis told the L-E in an email, “We are once again pleased to have three of our district’s high schools recognized in the U.S. News & World Report annual high school rankings from over 28,500 high schools nationally. Columbus High School’s improvement to No. 2 in the state and No. 80 in the nation is certainly a point of pride. Likewise, we are pleased that Early College and Kendrick High earned bronze medals for the third consecutive year.
“These prestigious accolades for academic performance on state assessments and preparing students for college-level work provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their success. I congratulate these schools and the committed staffs, motivated students, supportive parents and dedicated partners throughout Muscogee County who are building a better future for our community.”
As total magnet schools, Columbus High and Early College don’t have attendance zones, meaning all students in those schools must apply to be accepted and may be dismissed to their zoned school if their grades and behavior aren’t satisfactory. MCSD’s seven other high schools have magnet programs within the regular student population, meaning their enrollments comprise magnet students and students zoned for that school.
According to its website, U.S. News used data from the 2013-14 school year to compile the 2016 report. Out of more than 28,000 public schools reviewed, 19,908 had enough data to be considered in the rankings, based on state test results, graduation rates and college readiness. The magazine defines college readiness with a formula comprising Advance Placement or International Baccalaureate participation rate and the results of those exams.
The top 500 schools (3 percent) are awarded gold medals. The next 2,173 (11 percent) are awarded silver medals. The next 3,545 (18 percent) are awarded bronze medals.\
Columbus High is the only 2016 gold medalist in the Chattahoochee Valley. Among the other local schools this year, Auburn is the only silver medalist, ranking No. 12 in Alabama and No. 1,370 nationally. Lafayette, Loachapoka and Stewart County are the other local bronze medalists, along with Early College and Kendrick.
For the third straight year, U.S. News ranked the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas as No. 1 in the nation. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology is ranked No. 1 in Georgia for the third straight year, but it fell from No. 4 to No. 27 nationally. After not ranking Alabama schools last year because of incomplete data, U.S. News rated Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School in Montgomery as No. 1 in Alabama and No. 34 nationally.