U.S. News & World Report: Weston is third best high school in the state

US_NewsWeston High School is among the top high schools in the country, and ranked No. 3 in the state, according to a study that looked at AP participation and standardized test scores to gauge “college readiness.”

Weston ranked No. 240 nationally in U.S. News and World Report’s Best High Schools report, earning the district a “gold medal” designation for being in the top 500 of 21,000 schools in the country.

The report’s top school in the state was Darien High School, while No. 2 was Conard High School in West Hartford. The other five schools in Connecticut’s top 10 were Ridgefield, No. 4; Farmington, No. 5; Wilton, No. 6; Staples (Westport), No. 7; William H. Hall (West Hartford), No. 8; Joel Barlow (Redding-Easton), No. 9; and Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy (East Hartford), No. 10.

The rating was based on three indicators of success: proficiency in reading and math, college readiness, and the racial and economic achievement gap compared to the state average.

U.S. News joined with the American Institutes for Research, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, to evaluate schools on overall student performance on state-mandated assessments, as well as how effectively schools educated their black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.

Schools were ranked within each state, as well as on a national stage. In the national rankings, 500 schools earned gold medals, 1,790 were awarded silver, and 2,515 took home bronze.

Weston Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer was pleased with the news. “The continued ranking as a gold medal high school for U.S. News and World Report affirms the stellar academic achievement of our students and the high quality of our school system,” she said.

Test proficiency

Math and reading proficiency was based on the state’s standardized testing for reading and math, which here is the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) taken by 10th graders.

Of 199 Weston test scores counted in the reading study, 98% scored “proficient” or better, with 14% earning the “proficient” level, 36% at “goal,” and 49% earning “advanced” scores.

In math, of the 201 tests counted, 98% earned proficient or better, with 12% proficient, 32% at goal and 54% advanced.

College-readiness was based on college-level courses, either Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB). For Weston, AP was used.

Some 62% of Weston seniors participated in AP exams, and 92% earned passing scores of 3 or better on a 5-point scale on at least one exam. On average, students took 3.6 AP exams, according to the study’s report.

The report also measured disadvantaged student performance for typically underperforming subgroups. Those calculations by U.S. News were the second of two steps in determining which schools received at least a bronze medal.

While Weston had a 98.5% proficient rate for non-disadvantaged students, there was no performance data applicable to disadvantaged students.

The study noted that Weston’s students are 93% white, 3% Hispanic, 3% Asian, and 1% black, with 2% “economically disadvantaged,” either receiving free or reduced lunch.

The report was based on an enrollment of 775 students at Weston High School — 192 students in ninth grade, 205 in 10th grade, 187 in 11th grade, and 191 in 12th grade. The student body makeup is 52% female and 48% male.

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