U.S. News ranks SHS as 93rd best high school

January 21, 2010 — by Anna Shen and Karen Yang
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U.S. News and World Report released the nation's top high schools ranking on Dec. 9, 2009.

In its most recently distributed “Best High Schools of America” list in December, U.S. News and World Report ranked Saratoga High as the 93rd best school among a list that includes charter and magnet schools in the U.S. and 30th among open enrollment schools (meaning regular public schools that accept all students within their boundaries).

“What I think is most important is when you pull out the schools that can choose who they take and leave just the schools that are open enrollment, which is us, we’re number 30, which is spectacular,” said principal Jeff Anderson. “That says we do a really great job of teaching whoever walks through the door, and we’re serving our community. I want to take in everybody; I’d rather be inclusive than exclusive.”

In 2008, SHS ranked 72, and in 2009, the school dropped to 80th. Although SHS has placed lower in U.S. News’ top 100 high schools in each of the ranking’s first three years, Anderson feels that the rubric used to rank schools tends to be inaccurate and does not truly reflect the caliber of each high school. Schools were ranked based on their overall performance on state tests, the performance of minority and disadvantaged students and the number of students taking and passing AP or International Baccalaureate tests.

“What is unfortunate about [rankings] is that they distract people from the more fundamental questions,” said Anderson. “It’s not to say that the schools in the top 10 aren’t great, but does that mean that’s why you should go there? And I think that’s what people tend to do when they start seeing these rankings. They think if [a school] is not in this quadrant, then it’s not as valuable as the ones that are in the upper quadrant, and I think that’s a distortion; I don’t think it’s accurate.”

The slight drop from previous years does not concern students, either. Many believe that the lower ranking does not undermine Saratoga High’s aptitude for preparing students for college or future careers.

“I do not believe for a minute that Saratoga’s administration should be solely concerned with trying to improve our rankings,” said senior Ashwin Siripurapu. “The primary job of this school should be to teach its students the skills they need to succeed in their careers beyond high school.”

Other nearby schools also placed in U.S. News’ top 100 high schools. Mission San Jose High School in Fremont placed 36; Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto placed 67; Monta Vista High School in Cupertino placed 70; Palo Alto High School placed 83; and Lynbrook High School in San Jose placed 98. However, all five schools placed within the top 33 among open enrollment schools. Mission San Jose placed 4; Gunn placed 15; Monta Vista placed 18; Palo Alto placed 25; Lynbrook placed 33.

“It’s great to be in the top one hundred,” said Anderson. “I like to say that we’re actually in the top 30 when you look at similar schools, but I think we do a great job here for the students we have, regardless of what U.S. News says or what Newsweek says.”

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