Academic ranking is just part of equation | ParkRecord.com

Academic ranking is just part of equation

Newsweek numbers don't account for all of the students

Newsweek magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top high schools was released last month and for those who put a lot of stock in statistics, Park City High School’s performance was disappointing.

According to a formula based on Advanced Placement and other academic tests divided by the number of graduating seniors, PCHS slipped from 172nd place in 2006 to 215th this year.

Certainly, some would say that placing in the top sixth on a national index isn’t half bad for a small school in a relatively rural setting. But in light of the district’s often-repeated goal to be among the top 10 school systems in the country, watching the high school drop 43 rungs is bound to send Park City School District administrators and Education Foundation Board members back to study hall.

When Park City High School broke into the upper ranks of the Newsweek list, debuting in 2003 at 187th and climbing to 150th in 2005, the man who devised the formula, Jay Mathews, was heralded as an expert. This year, though, the district barely mentioned the May 28 issue.

Granted, it has been a tumultuous year for the school district including the departure of several top level administrators, a dramatic budget miscalculation and a major construction overhaul at the high school. Still, the district along with high school administrators and citizen education committee members should take a close look at why the high school has lost ground two years in a row on the Mathews index.

Academic test scores, however, are not the only way to measure a school’s success. Without attempting to make excuses for PCHS’s declining grade, this week of graduation, it is important to note the district’s remarkable accomplishments. One of those is noted on this edition’s front page. Friday, 12 Latino students will graduate more than in any previous year which means Park City’s schools are offering an education and hope to a new generation of immigrants. And on this page, among the letters to the editor is a heartwarming thank-you note from the mom of a disabled student who this year completed his studies at the district’s Learning Center. Her letter is evidence that Park City’s public schools are committed to serving all of the community’s children.

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While every high school likes to brag about how many seniors are headed to Ivy League universities and how many were recruited by collegiate teams, we’d like to take a moment to congratulate the Park City School District for raising the bar for the whole class.