Sunday, May 08, 2005

Newsweek's Top 1000 High Schools: The NorCal Edition

I'm always a little fascinated by Newsweek's Top 1000 High Schools in America, mostly because I think that it is crap. The formula they use to base their rankings is simply the amount of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests given divided by the number of graduating Seniors. Although I have little experiance with IB courses, I can safetly say that I hate what I see from AP courses. Most of the information is useless, mind numbing dribble, and the class is based around teaching to a test. How wonderful. Teachers and parents bitch and moan that they don't want to teach to the standardized tests........unless they are called Advanced Placement.
In my opinion, the measure of a school has little to do with conning kids into taking AP courses. Ukiah High has one of the top vocational programs in California. Ask some of those AP kids to change their oil, much less build an engine or repair leaks in their house. How about throwing some vocational information? Or what about funding issues? Demographics? Poverty?
Anyway, for what its worth, here are the "Top" schools in Northern California:

Rank/School/City/State/Index/%of free and reduced lunch (Ukiah is at 70%)

1003 | International Studies Academy | San Francisco | Calif. | 1.040 | 40.8
991 | Gateway | San Francisco | Calif. | 1.053 | 27
955 | San Mateo (tie) | San Mateo | Calif. | 1.090 | 10
940 | Petaluma | Petaluma | Calif. | 1.101 | 9*
935 | Casa Grande | Petaluma | Calif. | 1.103 | 8.2*
922 | Shasta | Redding | Calif. | 1.119 | 20*
919 | Mission | San Francisco | Calif. | 1.123 | 42.4
878 | Encinal | Alameda | Calif. | 1.162 | 62
873 | California | San Ramon | Calif. | 1.165 | 1.1*
843 | Redwood (tie) | Larkspur | Calif. | 1.200 | 1*
826 | Milpitas | Milpitas | Calif. | 1.213 | 28
800 | San Ramon Valley | Danville | Calif. | 1.235 | 0*
772 | Oak Ridge | El Dorado Hills | Calif. | 1.262 | 0.2*
764 | Hillsdale | San Mateo | Calif. | 1.269 | 9
756 | Granite Bay | Granite Bay | Calif. | 1.278 | 1*
738 | Gunderson | San Jose | Calif. | 1.301 | 45.4
728 | Las Lomas | Walnut Creek | Calif. | 1.305 | 50
724 | Willow Glen | San Jose | Calif. | 1.308 | 41.7
720 | Woodside | Redwood City | Calif. | 1.311 | 25.2
695 | Pioneer | San Jose | Calif. | 1.335 | 17.2
619 | Los Gatos | Los Gatos | Calif. | 1.418 | 1*
617 | Lincoln | San Jose | Calif. | 1.420 | 19
616 | Rio Americano | Sacramento | Calif. | 1.420 | 7*
605 | Silver Creek | San Jose | Calif. | 1.431 | 20
602 | Aptos (tie) | Aptos | Calif. | 1.434 | 36
597 | Aragon | San Mateo | Calif. | 1.441 | 2*
580 | Berkeley | Berkeley | Calif. | 1.462 | 23.2
568 | Monte Vista | Danville | Calif. | 1.482 | 1*
562 | Davis | Davis | Calif. | 1.495 | 6*
482 | Campolindo | Moraga | Calif. | 1.591 | 0*
472 | Arcata | Arcata | Calif. | 1.604 | 10*
455 | Washington | San Francisco | Calif. | 1.637 | 33
428 | Tamalpais | Mill Valley | Calif. | 1.698 | 6*
405 | Alameda | Alameda | Calif. | 1.733 | 23
402 | Burlingame | Burlingame | Calif. | 1.742 | 3*
384 | Mills | Millbrae | Calif. | 1.775 | 4.5*
382 | Acalanes | Lafayette | Calif. | 1.776 | 0*
361 | Piedmont | Piedmont | Calif. | 1.821 | 0*
352 | Leland | San Jose | Calif. | 1.832 | 7*
334 | Homestead | Cupertino | Calif. | 1.867 | 10*
330 | Palo Alto | Palo Alto | Calif. | 1.872 | 4*
291 | Mountain View | Mountain View | Calif. | 1.982 | 9*
279 | School of the Arts(tie)|San Francisco|Calif.|2.026| 17.7
271 | Miramonte | Orinda | Calif. | 2.044 | 0*
262 | Amador Valley | Pleasanton | Calif. | 2.068 | 3.4*
259 | Menlo-Atherton | Atherton | Calif. | 2.084 | 24.5
234 | Foothill | Pleasanton | Calif. | 2.161 | 0*
218 | San Jose High Academy*|San Jose |Calif. | 2.201 | 57.1
212 | Mira Loma* | Sacramento | Calif. | 2.230 | 25
202 | Saratoga | Saratoga | Calif. | 2.276 | 0.7*
193 | Mission San Jose | Fremont | Calif. | 2.312 | 2.7*
177 | Lynbrook | San Jose | Calif. | 2.384 | 3.6*
70 | Gunn | Palo Alto | Calif. | 3.052 | 3.2*
57 | Monta Vista | Cupertino | Calif. | 3.236 | 2*
* represents schools that serve an upper-middle or upper class income population

A couple of observations. First off, 54 out of 1000 schools made this list, or 5.4% of the schools overall. You can't make the arguement that smaller schools did better because most of these schools contain over 1,000 students. You can make the arguement that more money makes a difference. 60% of the schools on the list serve communities or areas that contain large amounts of income. That may seem even enough, except that on this list, I can only see 4 schools that actually serve impoverished or demographically diverse populations (Las Lomas, Encinal, Mission and maybe Washington). In fact, many schools on this list could be considered in "elite communities", where million dollar homes, fancy cars and massive parent support reign supreme (Cupertino, Moraga, Lafayette, San Ramon, Orinda, Los Gatos, Piedmont, Mill Valley, Danville, Larkspur, El Dorado Hills).
So this list, which is meaningless anyway, tells us nothing new.
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