Southampton High named one of nation’s best public high schools

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Southampton High School has made U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of the best public high schools in the nation for 2018, earning an un-ranked bronze rating.

In total, U.S. News nationally ranked the 5,948 highest-scoring high schools as either gold, silver or bronze in the 2018 list. According to Robert Morse, U.S. News’ chief data strategist, the first two levels — the gold and silver distinctions — include the top-performing high schools, which are divided into gold and silver groups based on their College Readiness Index value (CRI.) This measures the degree to which students are exposed to and pass some college-level material while still in high school, based on advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IB) test results during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Caroline Nelson of Nottoway Elementary receives her Odyessy of the Mind certificate from Supt. Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon. — Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

The bronze level includes schools that have met state test performance and graduation rate criteria but have not yet demonstrated high levels of measurable college readiness, either because their CRI values are less than the CRI median or they don’t offer AP programs at all.

To be numerically ranked nationally, a high school had to pass steps one through three of a four-step methodology and have a CRI value at or above 21.51, which was this year’s median the statistical midpoint of all CRI values. The maximum CRI value is 100. To earn a CRI of 100, every high school senior in a particular school during the 2015-2016 academic year would have had to take and pass at least one AP or IB test before or during his or her senior year.

Step one determines whether a school’s students are performing better than statistically expected for students in that state. Step two assesses whether a school’s historically underserved students – black, Hispanic and low-income — performed at or better than the state average for historically underserved students.

Step three requires schools to meet or surpass an 80-percent graduation rate. This is an increase from the 75 percent threshold used in the 2017 rankings but still lower than the national average graduation rate as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. Step four measures college readiness performance using AP and IB test data as the benchmark for success.

To be numerically ranked within a state, a school had to have received a gold, silver or bronze rating and a CRI of greater than or equal to 10. Bronze-level schools with a CRI of less than 10 are listed alphabetically rather than by rank.

Julian Whitehead of Capron Elementary receives his Odyssey of the Mind certificate from Supt. Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon.

“We are absolutely thrilled that our students and staff have been recognized for their hard work and success,” said Allene Atkinson, Southampton High School’s principal.

Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, offered this statement about the school recognition:

“Southampton County High School works tirelessly to provide our students with a high-quality education that prepares them for their future endeavors. Being recognized by U.S. News & World Report in the National Rankings and earning the Bronze Medal is an honor and evidence of the unwavering commitment of our students, faculty, staff, administration, parents and our community to teaching, learning and ‘Expanding Excellence.’ This honor is shared with the Southampton County School Board and the Board of Supervisors as they continue to support our efforts by providing resources for innovative educational opportunities for all of our students.

“Being a Bronze Medal recipient and being recognized in the National Rankings is a tremendous distinction for Southampton High School and Southampton County Public Schools. The work that led to this recognition is a stepping stone to the trek before us to continue to improve beyond the bronze level as we strive to achieve gold. To accomplish our mission, as a school division we are continuing to expand our curriculum by adding more Advanced Placement. We are also continuing to hire more highly qualified teachers, as well as supporting our current staff with professional development and professional enhancement opportunities and experiences. These training opportunities and experiences aid our teachers in providing rigorous instruction rooted in current and effective educational strategies and techniques. We are also expanding our relationship with the community college system to offer more dual enrollment courses to more students affording them an opportunity to graduate high school with more college credits and an associate’s degree.

“With the teacher shortage, which is prevalent throughout the nation, it is vital to recognize, value, and cherish the contributions that our teachers and other professionals make to our students. At Southampton County Public Schools, we acknowledge that having a skilled teaching staff who goes above and beyond for our students, school counselors who contribute to the expanded curriculum, parents who continue to encourage our students, a community who supports our students, and brilliant students who enroll in challenging classes, has made the Bronze designation possible. Through our many initiatives, promotion of the STEM and STEAM curriculum, and commitment to a high-quality educational system, we anticipate further accolades as we continue to Expand Excellence throughout the school division.”