A new report in Newsweek magazine says Evanston Township High School is among the top 3 percent of the nation’s public high schools.

A new report in Newsweek magazine says Evanston Township High School is among the top 3 percent of the nation’s public high schools.

The study attempts to rate the 1,500 best schools in the nation, based on the number of advanced placement tests taken at the school divided by the number of graduating seniors.

The 1,500 represent the top 6 percent of high schools in the country, based on that measure. Within the group, ETHS was 695th on the list.

It also ranked 15th among 47 high schools that made the list in Illinois.

The score was slightly higher than what ETHS achieved on the ranking the past two years, but lower than its score in three years before that.

ETHS this year came in slightly higher than New Trier and Lake Forest high schools, but below the rankings achieved by Highland Park and Oak Park/River Forest high schools.

Five selective Chicago city high schools also scored higher than ETHS in the rankings.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Suggest an alternative?
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Do you think anyone would actually use this as the sole indicator of educational success? I sure don’t. But it’s one relatively easily assembled piece of comparative data that arguably is correlated with educational achievement.

      (Kids who take no AP tests presumably believe their high school has not prepared them well enough to have a leg up starting college in any subject area.)

      Would you like to suggest an alternative measure that you prefer?


      1. Qualitative not Quantitative
        There is no easy way to assess whether we have prepared children to think critically. Lots of complex ways, but nothing clean and neat and nationally normed. Your headline “ETHS listed among nation’s top high schools” suggests that this ranking means that ETHS is top at something – but what it is top at is getting kids to take tests.

        My problem with AP tests as a measure of school success is that:
        1) they cost around $90 each to take
        2) this will positively skew the results in areas where this is not a burden.
        3) some schools choose to not teach AP classes because that is actually letting the ETS set the curriculum.

        It’s hard to put a number on thinking. In Bloom’s taxonomy of learning the lower ranking abilities – knowledge, comprehension, and to a certain extent application -are more “testable.” The higher order analysis, synthesis, and evaluation can’t really be scored on a bubble sheet.

        So, nope – I have no magic bullet. But I think we should be skeptical of rankings.

      2. measurement
        The theme of No Child Left Behind was supposed to be rigorous measurement of school performance. While we have all kinds of average test scores that we did not used to have, I don’t think we know better which schools are good. For example, Walter Payton High in Chicago posts great numbers, but they cherry pick students in the city. I can’t tell if their scores are good because of excellent instruction or if it is all selection bias.

        The AP test story is really that we have not measured quality of service at our schools. The job of a high school is to take the students it gets and advance them as much as possible. I would rather know how much improvement each school delivers to its students from 9-12 and the drop-out rate. Unfortunately, Newsweek and the rest of us have no measure of that. Newsweek wants to write a story on it, so they go for a metric on high achievement. How much of that is attributable to the school?

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