Wichita’s East High School is the best public high school in Kansas, according to rankings of the nation’s best high schools released this week by U.S. News and World Report.
East High, part of the Wichita school district and home to the district’s International Baccalaureate program, ranked first and was designated a silver-medal school. Liberal High School was second.
U.S. News and World Report and the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., evaluated schools based on their students’ performances on state-mandated assessments; how effectively the schools educated black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students; and how well they prepared students for college-level work based on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.
East High is the largest high school in Kansas, with about 2,300 students. Of those, 67 percent are minorities and 68 percent are economically disadvantaged.
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“Pleasantly surprised,” East High principal Ken Thiessen said of the ranking.
Thiessen said he sent an e-mail to teachers and staff Wednesday morning, alerting them to the news and congratulating them for their hard work. The honor also was posted on East High’s website.
“I think a big piece of this just has to do with the variety of programs and the variety of opportunities that we have for students here at East,” he said.
“We appreciate it, and we’ll just continue to move forward and try to do the best job we can, continuing the tradition.”
Thirty Kansas high schools received bronze medals, including Andover Central, Belle Plaine, Goddard, Haven, Hesston, Hutchinson and Sedgwick.
In the national rankings, the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas claimed the title of No. 1 public high school in the country for the third consecutive year. Students there are required to take at least 11 AP courses and partner with area universities to conduct field research.
Charter and magnet schools accounted for 155 of the top 500 schools. These schools often limit the number of students enrolled by using a lottery or a competitive process to draw more academically gifted students.
In the magazine’s state-by-state rankings, Kansas ranked No. 47 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among the 109 Kansas high schools eligible for the rankings, based on the magazine’s criteria, none received a gold-medal ranking and only two – 1.8 percent – received a silver medal.
Maine was this year’s leading performer, with 22.2 percent of its eligible schools earning gold or silver medals. California came in second and Connecticut was third.
The schools won’t receive a monetary award but will have their rankings, medal designations and data published online at www.usnews.com.