DDHS wins Bronze Award in Best High Schools rankings from U.S. News

Delavan Darien High School DDHS Building photoSchool is one of 114 in state to win an award

DELAVAN — U.S. News & World Report has awarded Delavan-Darien High School a Bronze Medal in its fourth and most comprehensive edition of the Best High School rankings, according to results released Tuesday, May 8.

The publication analyzed nearly 22,000 high schools from 49 states and the District of Columbia (Nebraska did not report enough data to be included in the rankings). It awarded more than 4,850 gold, silver and bronze medals to the nation’s top-performing schools based on its analysis of state-supplied data from the 2009-2010 school year.

For Wisconsin, 543 public high schools were analyzed in 382 school districts. Of those, 114 state high schools, including DDHS, earned an award from U.S. News, including two gold, 24 silver and 88 bronze medals. DDHS was the only high school in Walworth County to be recognized.

Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt, Principal

“It is very encouraging for our students and staff to be recognized in the U.S. News and World Report high school rankings,” DDHS Principal Mark Schmitt said. “When I read how high schools were chosen for this recognition, I was struck by the emphasis on reaching all students.”

The publication explains its recognition of student achievement as being “based on the key principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college-bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.”

Added Schmitt, “That is exactly what we are focusing on: serving all students so they are prepared for a career and college as we develop the outcomes and measures to make sure that all students are achieving. Combined with our record-setting number of students taking Advanced Placement tests, having a student qualify for the National Merit Scholarship contest, and significantly improved scores of our English Language Learners, it’s all encouraging news for DDHS.”

Nationally, DDHS was one 4,877 high schools to earn a gold, sliver or bronze ranking. The top 500 schools in the nation were named gold-medal winners. Schools ranked No. 501 through No. 2,008 received a silver ranking. There were 2,869 high schools in the country earning a bronze, according to U.S. News.

To complete the study, U.S. News partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. AIR implemented U.S. News’s rankings methodology when analyzing the data.

To determine the Best High Schools national rankings, schools were first analyzed at the state level in terms of how well students in each school performed on state assessments, taking into account the test scores of disadvantaged students (low-income, Hispanic, and black students), who tend to score lower on tests, according to U.S. News.

High schools that made it through this analysis were then eligible to be ranked nationally, in terms of college readiness. U.S. News then determines the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work by analyzing student success in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, both of which include college-level courses, according to the publication.

In earning the award, U.S. News recognized that DDHS serves all of its students well by using performance on state proficiency tests as benchmarks, including the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (the state’s standardized test) and Advanced Placement exams.

The first step in earning the award determined that DDHS students performed better than statistically expected compared to average students in the state. The study factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students at the school and analyzed the performance of black, Hispanic and low-income students, comparing those results to state averages.

Lastly, the study measured a “college readiness index” based on the school’s AP exam participation rate. DDHS fell just 2.1 points shy in the calculation to be eligible for a silver medal award. DDHS had a college readiness index of 14.2. The study required a value of at least 16.3 (the median of all college readiness index values among all high schools with AP or IB test takers) for a silver rating.

U.S. News encourages parents and students to examine the award winners and data the study collected to help make a informed decisions about choosing a high school. The study results can help assure that students at the school can, do and will succeed.

The study data can be reviewed at: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

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