Yellow Springs, Oakwood among Ohio’s best in school rankings

Ohio’s best high schools

There are 890 high schools in the state of Ohio. Here are the top 20, with metro area locations, plus area schools in the top 100, according to U.S. News & World Report:

1. Walnut Hills (Cincinnati)

2. Wyoming (Cincinnati)

3. Bexley (Columbus)

4. Indian Hill (Cincinnati)

5. Olentangy (Columbus)

6. Madeira (Cincinnati)

7. Olentangy Liberty (Columbus)

8. Mariemont (Cincinnati)

9. Hudson (Akron)

10. Olentangy Orange (Columbus)

11. Aurora (Cleveland)

12. Solon (Cleveland)

13. Yellow Springs (Dayton)

14. Oakwood (Dayton)

15. Kings (Cincinnati)

16. Upper Arlington (Columbus)

17. Dublin Jerome (Columbus)

18. Dublin Coffman (Columbus)

19. Turpin (Cincinnati)

20. New Albany (Columbus)

Others in top 100

32. Mason

51. Lakota East

53. Little Miami

54. Lakota West

56. Minster

61. Lebanon

63. Centerville

66. Stivers

68. Bethel

72. Bellbrook

90. Ross (Hamilton)

94. Springboro

95. Tippecanoe

98. Fort Loramie

Yellow Springs and Oakwood high schools earned the highest local rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s “best high schools” list released this week.

Yellow Springs was ranked 13th in Ohio and 391st in the nation, with Oakwood 14th in Ohio and 456th in the U.S.

“We are incredibly proud of the dedication of our students and staff to earn a place on the (rankings),” said Yellow Springs Superintendent Mario Basora. “Through an emphasis on 21st-century skills like problem-solving and creative thinking in our project-based learning environment, our students leave Yellow Springs High School ready for success and to make a difference in the world.”

The only other school in the region to make Ohio’s top 50 was Mason, at 32nd. Others in the top 100 were (in order) Lakota East, Little Miami, Lakota West, Minster, Lebanon, Centerville, Stivers, Bethel, Bellbrook, Hamilton Ross, Springboro, Tippecanoe and Fort Loramie.

How rankings work

Basora said Yellow Springs doesn’t spend time preparing for standardized testing, but that’s largely what U.S. News uses as the basis of its rankings. To be ranked at all, a high school first must meet three criteria:

• Reading and math proficiency scores on 2013-14 state tests had to be better than expected given the level of poverty in the school;

• Black, Hispanic and poor children had to score better than state averages for those demographics on 2013-14 state reading and math tests;

• Four-year graduation rate for the class of 2014 had to exceed 68 percent.

Less than one-third of the 19,908 high schools evaluated met those criteria, according to U.S. News & World Report. The rankings took those 6,218 schools left standing and ranked them on a totally different factor — a “college readiness index” based on high-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.

The index was weighted 75 percent toward what percentage of the class of 2014 passed an AP or IB test, with the other 25 percent giving credit for how many students even attempted those tests.

Other factors

As with most rankings based on test scores, school districts with wealthy residents dominated the U.S. News list. Four of Ohio’s top five — Wyoming, Bexley, Indian Hill and Olentangy — are located in some of the richest districts in Ohio. Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills, which requires high test scores for admission, also is in the top five.

Yellow Springs was one of very few Ohio districts near the top of U.S. News’ list that are not among the state’s richest districts.

The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, was No. 1 in U.S. News’ national rankings for the fifth straight year.

“The 2016 Best High Schools rankings provide students and parents with data-driven information on public schools to help them make better-informed decisions about their education,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News.

A variety of groups do school rankings, sometimes coming out with different schools at the top. Newsweek’s rankings focus more on college enrollment and graduation rate. The Washington Post ranks schools solely on how many AP/IB tests students attempt. Niche K-12’s are less scientific, as they include student and parent reviews along with test scores.