East Hawaii News

Four Big Island High Schools Listed in National Ranking

May 1, 2013, 6:12 PM HST
* Updated May 1, 6:14 PM
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Four Big Island schools earned recognition in the 2013 Best High School Rankings by US News & World Report.

The four high schools: Keaau, Kealakehe, Kohala and Pahoa High & Intermediate, were among 11 Hawaii schools receiving bronze medals in the rankings released April 22.

Only public high schools were considered in the rankings.

US News said private schools were not included since in most cases, students in private schools are not required to take statewide accountability tests – required for the methodology US News used – that are mandatory in public schools.

As only gold and silver medal winners were ranked, the Hawaii bronze winners were listed in alphabetical order.

Among  the four Big Island schools receiving bronze medals, Kealakehe and Kohala tied for highest combined scores in math and reading, followed closely by Pahoa.

Of the four, Kealakehe had the highest reading scores with 59% testing as proficient, which US News said was above the state’s average. Kohala had the highest math scoring with 81% showing proficiency.

Among the schools with bronze medals statewide, Waialua and Kalani high schools scored highest in reading, with 66% of students rated as proficient. Mililani High School scored highest in math with 88% proficiency. All three are Oahu schools.

The other Hawaii schools earning bronze medals were Education Laboratory Public Charter School in Honolulu; James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, Oahu; King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani, Maui; and McKinley High School in Honolulu.

High schools were ranked on criteria that included how students performed against average students in that state on reading and math scores, on how the school’s “least-advantaged” students fared against their counterparts elsewhere in the state, and how they scored on college-readiness tests.

US News defined the least-advantaged students as “black/African American” and “Hispanic/Latino,” and also the economically disadvantaged, with that determined by state criteria such as students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

us news & world report logoIt was not immediately clear how or if the diverse ethnic makeup of Hawaii’s schools was factored in. US News did not respond today to a request for additional information.

US News said 38 states had at least one school that received a gold medal. California had the most gold medal schools with 94, followed by New York with 65.

Bronze medals were not factored into the state-by-state analysis.

The rankings also were not clear when it came to which schools were eligible for gold or silver medals.

The US News website said that only schools scored for “college readiness” of graduating seniors were eligible for those medals.

However, the top 11 – and all of the other Hawaii schools in the rankings – had “N/A” under scores for college readiness. The use of that nomenclature was not explained on the rankings website.

According to the website, college readiness scores were not available for schools where Advanced Placement or similar national tests of college preparedness were not offered, where the scores were below a certain threshold, or for schools where less than 10 students took the AP tests.

However, state education officials noted that AP testing is widely offered in this state.

According to the Hawaii Department of Education, about 4,700 Hawaii public schools students took AP exams in the 2011-2012 school year. About 2,600 of those students earned scores of 3 or above, which the US News’ rankings consider a passing score.

Spokesman Alex Da Silva said the DOE was not consulted for the rankings.

He said the department would be interested in learning more about the rankings methodology “as the report seems to be missing key information on our college-and career-readiness initiatives.”

This year’s rankings covered 49 states and the District of Columbia; ranking officials said Nebraska did not provide enough assessment data for its schools to be eligible for a medal.

A total of 21,035 public high schools in the US were reviewed for the rankings which were prepared with the assistance of the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research.

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