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HHS is among 'best high schools'

Staff writer

For the second time in three years, Hillsboro High School was a bronze medal recipient in a list of “America’s Best High Schools” created by U.S. News & World Report magazine. It is the magazine’s third such list.

The list, released Dec. 9, rated schools on three criteria. To qualify for a bronze medal, students at a school must perform better than the state average on math and reading tests, adjusted for poverty. Students from poor families generally perform worse on standardized tests than middle class students.

Also, disadvantaged students — specifically black, Hispanic, and low-income students — must perform better than average for similar students in the state in order for a school to earn a bronze medal.

“It comes down to the quality of our staff and the attitude of the community,” HHS Principal Max Heinrichs said Friday. “Education is a high priority.”

To earn a silver medal, a school must have high participation and success in one of two college preparation programs: Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. The top 100 silver medalists receive gold medals.

HHS provides an alternative route to college readiness for its students. The school offers college-level classes in partnership with Tabor College, Butler Community College, and Cloud County Community College, Heinrichs said.

Students may take up to three college classes per semester. The classes are part of the students’ regular school day, and they give students more time for one-on-one instruction than they might receive at a large university, Heinrichs said.

A recent graduating class had 33 students who left HHS with 12 or more hours of college credit, he said.

In Kansas 13.5 percent of public schools earned a bronze medal. Heinrichs said he saw an attribute shared by most of the medal winners — they are small schools.

Only one school in Kansas earned silver or gold: a magnet school in Kansas City received gold. Private schools were not evaluated in the study.

Hillsboro Elementary and Middle schools do a good job preparing students for high school, Heinrichs said.

“It is a total effort,” he said.

Last modified Dec. 16, 2009

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