Columbus High School is the No. 1 public high school in Georgia, according to the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools rankings released Tuesday.
The national magazine, according to its news release, analyzed more than 22,000 schools based on published data and honored 6,041. The top 2.4 percent, including Columbus High, received Gold Awards. The next 10.3 percent received Silver Awards. The next 16.8 percent received Bronze Awards.
The only other local Georgia school in the rankings is Early College Academy of Columbus at No. 77 in the state but without a national ranking (Bronze Award for fourth straight year). That means Muscogee County’s number of schools in the rankings has dropped from five in 2015 (when Columbus High was a gold medalist and Early College, Jordan, Kendrick and Spencer High Schools were bronze medalists) to three in 2016 (when Columbus High was a gold medalist and Early College and Kendrick were bronze medalists) and to two in 2017 (Columbus High gold medalist and Early College bronze medalist).
The only local Alabama schools in the rankings are Auburn High School at No. 19 in the state and No. 1,748 in the nation (Silver Award) and Beauregard High School at No. 50 in the state but without a national ranking (Bronze Award).
Columbus High’s rankings of No. 1 in Georgia and No. 83 in the nation conclude a steady climb to the top of the state the past several years, although it slipped three spots nationally this past year. It was No. 5 in the state and No. 202 in the nation in 2013, then No. 4 in the state and No. 104 in the nation in 2014, then No. 3 in the state and No. 85 in the nation in 2015, then No. 2 in the state and No. 80 in the nation in 2016.
FACEBOOK TWITTERColumbus High senior Genesis Cooper is named the 2017 Smith Scholar
Genesis Cooper could relate to the story of James H. Smith, who quit school as a teenager after his father's death. "Thankfully, I didn't have to stop what I was doing to care of her," she said of her mother, who is partially paralyzed and legally blind. "I've always been focused on my future, because I had to grow up at such a young age." Genesis is the 10th James H. & Gladys M. Smith Scholar from the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley.
Robin Trimarchi The Ledger-Enquirer
In an emailed interview Tuesday with the Ledger-Enquirer, Marvin Crumbs, who has been Columbus High’s principal since the 2011-12 school year, wrote, “I’m very proud of our students, faculty, staff and parents!”
Asked what is the most significant factor in Columbus High's continued excellence and recent improvement, Crumbs wrote, “We continually invest great efforts in building a comprehensive AP Program that encompasses the needs of all students to learn at a higher level. We continually extend our AP Program by adding additional AP Courses that students are seeking and providing field experiences that enrich the learning experience for the student. More of our students are taking advantage of the AP opportunities that exist by enrolling in multiple AP courses to be more competitive when applying to college. We are truly a College Preparatory Program.”
Crumbs added, “There are so many stakeholders represented in this recognition to include students, teachers, parents, administration, MCSD administration, alumni, community members, etc. In addition, with the support and encouragement we receive from the Superintendent, Dr. Lewis, as well as the MCSD administration and staff, and their willingness to support our vision and goals, we are able to provide our students with a very rigorous curriculum that provides opportunities for students to experience and excel in all academic areas.”
Responding to the Ledger-Enquirer’s request for his reaction to the news, Muscogee County School District superintendent David Lewis wrote in an email, “We congratulate the Columbus High and Early College Academy school communities on their continued academic performance and ongoing recognition by this prestigious publication. The fact that CHS achieved the number one ranking in the state is something for which they and our community can be justifiably proud.”
Columbus High (1,255 students) and Early College (170 students) are total magnet schools, so they don’t have attendance zones and can admit any student who meets their selection criteria. They also can dismiss any student to their zoned school if they don’t continue to meet the elevated academic and behavioral standards.
As for MCSD having fewer schools in the rankings the past two years, Lewis wrote, “Today’s release has not allowed time for a detailed analysis but as noted in the publication’s calculation methodology, the criteria and weighting on which the rankings are based changes from year-to-year. Therefore, fluctuations from year- to- year can be expected.”
The rankings are based on four steps, according to the U.S. News website:
▪ Performing better than expected in the state. Reading and math scores on the state’s proficiency tests are factored with the percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
▪ Disadvantaged students performing better than the state average. Math and reading scores on the state’s proficiency tests for black and Hispanic students and those from low-income families are compared to statewide results for these groups.
▪ Graduation rate meets or exceeds the national standard. Schools with a graduation rate lower than 75 percent were excluded from the rankings.
▪ Students are prepared for college-level coursework. The College Readiness Index is calculated based on the school’s Advanced Placement participation rate and its performance on AP exams.
This year’s formula gave more weight to participation and passing rates in college-level courses and exams – a possible reason why one-third of the 2016 medal-winning schools aren’t in the 2017 rankings, according to the magazine’s website.
"Research has shown that students exposed to a more diverse high school curriculum are better equipped for college success," Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, said in the release. "With this new tiebreaker measure, U.S. News is rewarding schools that make an effort to challenge their students in a broad range of subjects."
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