Park City High School returns to national rankings
School ranked No. 2 in Utah by U.S. News and World Report
School officials and the many in the community have long considered Park City High School as one of the best in the state.
Now, they again have some of the most prestigious national school rankings backing them up. After missing from such rankings in the last few years, Park City High School reentered the U.S. News and World Report’s annual list, coming in as the No. 2 school in Utah and No. 418 in the nation out of more than 22,000 schools. A similar ranking from The Washington Post named PCHS as the most challenging school in the state and No. 446 in the country.
Bob O’Connor, principal of PCHS, said the honors are indicative of the good work happening at all levels of the Park City School District.
“It’s a nice accolade for what the school district is doing, not just Park City High School,” he said. “It’s a systemic effort to educate our kids, so it starts with the elementary schools, Ecker Hill (Middle School) and Treasure (Mountain Junior High School). They deserve to share in some of that credit.”
Superintendent Ember Conley echoed those sentiments in a statement to The Park Record.
“Congratulations to the entire Park City School District! It takes a system of dedicated staff, in partnership with parents, from preschool through 12th grade to make this happen,” she said. “We couldn’t be more proud of your huge accomplishments!”
According to the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings, which were released last month, PCHS scored well for its percentage of students who both took Advanced Placement tests (75 percent) and passed the rigorous exams (73 percent). The school also scored well above the state averages in math and English proficiency.
The Washington Post list did not provide specific metrics for its rankings.
O’Connor said he was particularly pleased with the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams because it indicates the school is offering the kind of rigorous education that prepares students for success in college.
“If you look at the number of AP classes being taken, it keeps going up each year,” he said. “We’ve had some years where the increase has been significant. And that’s a tribute to the AP teachers growing programs and sustaining enrollment.”
The school was once a mainstay in annual rankings, sometimes being named as the best school in Utah, but had fallen off the lists in recent years, largely because the performance of its underserved students lagged behind state averages.
O’Connor lauded the work of the school staff aimed at narrowing the opportunity gap and said it was exciting to be back in the rankings — not for the prestige that comes with it, but simply because it means students are getting a top-notch education.
“We’re not trying to get on the rankings — we’re going to try to educate every kid as best as we can and provide an opportunity for a challenging, rigorous education for all kids,” he said. “If we benefit from being in the rankings, then so be it.”
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“I think one of the things that really, really, really scares … us is knowing that there are go-to docs that they can send out saying a student or a teacher or a staff member died,” said union co-president Julie Hooker.