Last year, among more than 14,000 high schools reviewed by Newsweek for its Top High School list, New Hope-Solebury High School was ranked 58th in the nation, third place in Pennsylvania, and number one in Bucks County.
Fast-forward to 2015: New Hope-Solebury has dropped to number 392 nationally, and ranks sixteenth among Pennsylvania high schools, according to this year’s just-published Newsweek list.
Although the validity of the rating systems used by national print publications has been controversial since their inception, New Hope-Solebury School District touted the rankings last year (“This is another shining credit to our outstanding high school…”), and this publication covered their reaction as a “feel-good” story. Critics say “best school” lists can potentially do more harm than good by unintentionally masking challenges that may need to be addressed.
So why the drop?
The media relations team at Newsweek was helpful, saying, “As our FAQ states, the ranking of schools each year is relative to the set of schools that participated in the survey in that given year. The variance in the sets of participating schools is a large part of the reason why a school’s rank can change from year to year. To a lesser degree, the change in rank may have been caused by the fact that their college enrollment rate (highest-weighted criterion for us) dropped a couple of percentage points from last year, and it’s a tight race between the top schools.”
Observed New Hope parent Judy Finn, with two of her children attending high school, “It’s disappointing to see a statewide drop in standardized testing scores and its effect on polls like Newsweek, but encouraging to see consistently higher results from NHS students.
“SAT/ACT scores and percentage of college-bound students are important measures of bricks-and-mortar education combined with (as importantly) the students’ out-of-school support, i.e. parents,” added Finn. “It would be nice to see a side-by-side comparison of the last few years’ test results for more clarity.”
New Hope-Solebury School District Assistant Superintendent Steven M. Yanni was also forthcoming about possible reasons for the high school’s steep fall in the Newsweek list: “If you sort the list by state, you’ll see that we experienced the drop along with several others. In fact, some local high-performing high schools didn’t even make the list,” said Yanni.
“I believe that this is due, in part, to the new state assessments,” he continued. “Across the Commonwealth, we saw a substantial drop in PSSA scores. Conversely though, we saw solid Keystone, as well as Advanced Placement scores. What is never completely clear is the algorithm used to determine the rankings.
“We continue to be proud of our students and staff for their achievements,” added Yanni. “As we work collaboratively with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to gain a better understanding of the new state assessments, I feel confident that our scores will rebound and our rankings will improve.”
A good answer, indeed.
As Jean-Luc Picard might say, “Make it so.”
It is interesting to note that there is a Judy Tenuta that is a very well known entertainer, actress,comedian, author and producer. Could it be that she is one in the same as the the person who made two postings in her name. If so, we have a celebrity living in our mists.
Likewise, if you google M Peter McHeffey, up comes the name of a Hollywood actor who starred in a movie “DOA” (2015).
I wonder, is there is a law against using a person’s name (in this case, an actor, McHeffey)without his consent to knowingly, willingly, deliberately and intentionally to commit an act of defamation upon a third party, in this case me?
As far as the topic at hand, the ratings of Newsweek. The fact is college recruiters couldn’t give a rat’s tail about Newsweek because they are recruiting individuals, not the school.
two of the central bucks district high schools didn’t even make this list, and both council rock schools did well in newsweek even though neither made the us news list at all this year, something is crazy right now………
so NHS is lower in the list of “americas top high schools” in newsweek this year, and its higher in the list in 2015 us news and world report……..i don’t know who to believe! and it’s still in the list of “americas top high schools” during the year when everything is screwy with the state’s crazy new standardized tests. sorry, not joining the chicken little brigade, the sky ain’t falling.
And now an asinine comment about the evil NHS school board and the worthless children of New Hope by the world’s most predictable Town Crank, Melvin Band………..