January 2012: Top 50 High Schools
Which metro Atlanta public high schools best prepare students for college?
Michele Cohen Marill
When high school ends with a flip of the mortarboard tassel, only one question matters: Are the graduates ready for their next step?
The answer varies greatly. About 70 percent of Georgia high school students go on to college. Last year ten students earned perfect scores on the SAT. More than a third took at least one college-level course during high school.
“More and more kids are taking the most rigorous course work we can offer them in high school, and more of them are showing they can do college work and receive college credit,” says Becky Chambers, program manager for college readiness at the Georgia Department of Education.
But too many students find that their high school didn’t prepare them to succeed in college. About one in four need learning support when they enter Georgia colleges, and a similar number drop out of college after their first year.
We decided to take a close look at how metro Atlanta high schools rate on measures of college-readiness. We used nine indicators from the latest report card compiled by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, which is for the 2009–2010 school year. Schools were ranked for each indicator, and then rankings were averaged to produce an overall ranking. The top fifty are featured here.*
Ratings often reflect differences in school populations. DeKalb School of the Arts had just 291 students; Brookwood High School in Gwinnett had 3,420. At Crim High School in Atlanta, 97 percent of the students qualified for free or reduced lunch due to low family income; at Northview High School in Fulton, just 5 percent did. Schools with International Baccalaureate programs may not have performed as well on AP indicators, as they had relatively fewer top students participating.
But overall, the rankings show how our high schools are doing at their core mission: graduating students who can meet the challenges of higher education.
We are grateful to Terry Sloope, assistant director for research with the A.L. Burruss Institute at Kennesaw State University, for technical assistance. The mission of the Burruss Institute is to enhance the ability of governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations to make informed decisions for the public good by providing relevant data, technical resources, and skill development.
Advanced Placement exams
AP passing rate
College preparatory diploma
Source: GOSA Report Card, 2009–2010 (the most recent available).