by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark assistant editor
Two high schools in Platte County were named “Silver Medal” schools by U.S. News and World Report.
According to an annual ranking of top performing public, charter and magnet high schools, Park Hill was ranked 6th in Missouri and 757th nationally, earning the school a silver medal ranking.
Park Hill South was ranked 11th in Missouri and 1,605th nationally, also earning the school a silver medal ranking.
The 2016 Best High Schools rankings compared data on 19,908 public high schools across the nation. The rankings compared student performance on reading and math proficiency tests, disadvantaged student performance and college readiness performance.
The criteria are based on the idea that a successful high school must be able to serve each student well, including students not proceeding on to college, and show measurable academic results indicating it is reaching a broad spectrum of learners demonstrated by a variety of performance markers.
“We’re very proud of our high-performing schools,” said Park Hill Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd. “This national recognition validates the hard work our teachers and support staff do every day to support our students’ learning and the high achievement our community expects here in the Park Hill School District.”
Results from the Missouri Assessment Program test show that 78 percent of students at Park Hill scored at a proficient or advanced level in English and 73 percent scored at a proficient or advanced level in mathematics.
At Park Hill South, 85 percent of students scored at a proficient or advanced level in English and 79 percent scored at a proficient or advanced level in mathematics.
But in order for the school to be recognized with a gold or silver medal, the students must demonstrate success at college-level course work. U.S. News and World Report compared the number of high school students participating in an Advanced Placement Examination and the percentage of students who passed the exam.
At Park Hill, 60 percent of seniors took an Advanced Placement Examination. Of that 60 percent, 45 percent passed the exam. Accordingly, 48.5 percent of 12th graders at Park Hill are ready for college.
A fewer number of 12th graders at Park Hill South took the AP exam. Of the 47 percent of seniors who took the exam, 29 percent passed. Accordingly, 33.4 percent of seniors at Park Hill South are ready for college.
This year, graduation rates were also a part of the scoring criteria. To be eligible to be considered a top-performing school and to be ranked at a national level, schools had to meet a high school graduation rate threshold of 68 percent. Park Hill has a 94 percent graduation rate and Park Hill South has a 92 percent graduation rate, high above the national average graduation rate of 82 percent.
Missouri high school students have to earn a minimum of 24 credits in order to graduate.
In the report, 19 high schools in Missouri ranked among the best. Four Missouri high schools were awarded a “Gold Medal” ranking and 15 received a “Silver Medal” ranking.
North Platte in Dearborn was one of 154 schools to receive a “Bronze Medal” ranking.
The top-ranked school in the state is Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
Nationally, 31.2 percent or 3,545 high schools received a medal ranking. Of the 19,908 eligible schools, 3,545 high schools received a bronze medal, 2,173 earned a silver medal and 500 high schools were awarded a gold medal.
The student-to-teacher ratio at Park Hill High School is 16:1 and 15:1 at Park Hill South. That is slightly higher than the state average of 13:1.
The student body makeup at both high schools is 51 percent male and 49 percent female. The total minority enrollment at Park Hill is 34 percent. At Park Hill South it is 21 percent.