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Editorial: Education equality

Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

Atlee and Hanover high schools joined a rather exclusive list with their recent recognition by US News and World Report for academic excellence.

Overall, Atlee ranked 33rd in the state and Hanover placed 36th; on a national scale the two schools placed 1,256th and 1,550th, respectively.

Both schools achieved a silver medal for this designation and were placed into the second group of high schools with the highest unrounded college readiness indexes, based on the blurb we received from the school system Wednesday.

This is great news for a school system already accustomed to receiving great news. Our schools outperform most school divisions in the state each year, and their success is one of the big draws that brings people to Hanover County.

In the rankings, Atlee achieved 84 percent proficiency in math and a near-perfect 98 percent proficiency in reading. These numbers were echoed at Hanover (the only thing really separating the two schools was a slightly higher “college readiness index” at Atlee).

At the county’s two other un-ranked high schools – Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry – the academic story was different. Though reading proficiency was high at both schools – 95 percent – math proficiency was in the 63-64 percent range. This means that one-third of students at Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry aren’t math-proficient, based on test scores.

Perhaps the data was flawed. Maybe students at Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry just aren’t good test-takers. We could ponder for days why, exactly, two of the county’s high schools are outperforming the other two.

US News’ methodology is based on the “key principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college-bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.”

We apologize for momentarily speaking “statistician.” What they mean, is that a good school educates all of its students equally. Perhaps Hanover should focus on making sure that happens across the district. We’d love to see all of the county’s high schools at the top of this list.