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Orono High School is Minnesota’s best traditional public high school and a Gold Medal recipient in the 2018 ranking of America’s Best High Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Orono placed second overall of the 569 high schools ranked in Minnesota.
Nationally, Orono was 210th of 28,813 high schools nationwide or among the top
1 percent of America’s high schools.
In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education, OHS placed first of all high schools in Minnesota and 172nd nationally.
The top 500 high schools across the nation – just 2 percent – received the highest recognition of Gold Medal. The rating reflects the best college readiness scores, which are based on the percentages of each school’s students who took and passed Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests.
Another 11 percent of high schools nationwide qualified for the Silver Medal and 16 percent for the Bronze Medal. Seventy-one percent of high schools received no medal at all.
Only seven Minnesota high schools earned a Gold Medal and, of those, only Orono and two others were traditional public high schools (Edina at #6 and Mahtomedi at #7).
“Our graduates attend the nation’s top colleges and universities and frequently tell us how well prepared they were for a rigorous college experience,” said Dr. Karen Orcutt, superintendent of schools. “At the same time, this ranking also validates our many efforts to help every student achieve his or her potential.”
“Behind this success is a shared vision of continuous improvement,” she added, “uniting motivated students, involved families, dedicated teachers and sound leadership from administrators and school board members.”
To determine the rankings, the magazine teamed with RTI International, a global nonprofit social science research firm, which employs a comprehensive four-step methodology.
The first two steps ensure that schools served their entire student bodies well, using performance on state proficiency tests as benchmarks. The second step, in particular, assessed whether historically underserved students – Black, Hispanic and low-income – performed at or better than the state average for historically underserved students.
For schools that qualify, the third step requires schools to meet or surpass a benchmark graduation rate. Orono High School has a 99 percent graduation rate.
Schools that made it through the first three steps are eligible to be judged nationally on the final step – college-readiness performance – using an analysis of AP data as a benchmark of success. OHS offers AP, a College Board program that offers college-level courses at high schools.
U.S. News & World Report first published the list of America’s Best High Schools in 2007. The magazine believes “high schools are among America’s most important institutions and that education drives this country’s future. Recognizing schools that are performing well and providing them as models to other schools will inspire educators and communities to do better.”
The magazine also states that, by publishing the rankings, “parents across the country will be armed with information to help them make better-informed decisions about their child’s education.”