Education

Charlotte-area charter, district high schools take U.S. News honors

Lake Norman Charter School got the Charlotte region’s highest ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 list of the nation’s best high schools.
Lake Norman Charter School got the Charlotte region’s highest ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 list of the nation’s best high schools. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Three Mecklenburg County high schools – two north suburban charter schools and Providence High in south Charlotte – ranked among the nation’s best on U.S. News & World Report’s annual “best high schools” list.

Lake Norman Charter School in Huntersville had the region’s highest rating, based on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate scores, graduation rates and academic proficiency. It was rated No. 261 among 19,908 public high schools.

Providence was the highest-ranked Charlotte-Mecklenburg school at No. 372. Community School of Davidson squeaked onto the “gold medal” list for the top 500 schools, taking the 500th spot.

Eleven more schools in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties got silver-medal ratings.

The magazine has been rating high schools since 2007.

“The goal is to provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public schools serve all of their students – from the highest achieving to the lowest achieving – in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work,” a statement on the magazine’s website says. “Recognizing schools that are performing well and providing them as models to other schools will inspire educators and communities to do better.”

RTI International, a research firm based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, helped create the 2016 rankings. To be eligible for “medals,” schools had to have better-than-expected performance on state exams, including for low-income and minority students, and a graduation rate of at least 68 percent. Those that qualified were ranked on performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, which measure the ability of high school students to master college-level work.

Private high schools aren’t eligible because they don’t take part in state testing.

Top rankings are dominated by public schools that require applications, such as magnets and charter schools. The nation’s top-rated school is a Dallas magnet school for gifted and talented students. North Carolina’s is Early College at Guilford (No. 23 nationally), a high school on the Guilford College campus serving students who can do accelerated work.

North Carolina’s charter schools must take all who apply, using a lottery if there are more applicants than seats. But they don’t have to offer meals or transportation, which can limit the ability of disadvantaged students to enroll.

Some district magnet schools on the list, such as Northwest School of the Arts and Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, have admission requirements.

Still, some highly rated schools in the Charlotte region are traditional public schools that take all students who live in their zones, including Providence, Ardrey Kell, South Mecklenburg and Butler high schools in CMS and Marvin Ridge and Weddington high schools in Union County.

Read the full report at www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

Best high schools list

Here’s how schools in the Charlotte area rated on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s list, released Tuesday. The top 500 were awarded gold medal rankings and almost 2,200 more earned silver medals.

School

National rank

Medal

Type

Lake Norman Charter

261

Gold

Charter

Providence High

372

Gold

CMS

Community School of Davidson

500

Gold

Charter

Marvin Ridge High

505

Silver

Union County

Ardrey Kell High

521

Silver

CMS

Northwest School of the Arts

589

Silver

CMS

Weddington High

713

Silver

Union County

Myers Park High

821

Silver

CMS

Pine Lake Prep

853

Silver

Charter

South Meck High

1084

Silver

CMS

Butler High

1175

Silver

CMS

Union Academy

1835

Silver

Charter

Berry Academy of Technology

1891

Silver

CMS

Highland School of Technology

2032

Silver

Gaston County

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