Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 10, 2012

U.S. News & World Report sheds light on successes at Goshen High

GOSHEN —  A world renowned magazine confirmed something this week that Goshen High School faculty and students already felt.

They are one of the best schools in the state.

An annual report of the best schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report ranked Goshen High School as the 12th best school in Indiana. Goshen High School faculty received an e-mail Tuesday afternoon notifying them of the recognition.

“We are most pleased because we didn’t have anything to do with it,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Barry Younghans. “There were no applications or anything like that. This was just something they came up with on their own.”

The magazine determined the rankings by using three different steps and comparing each of them to the 2009-10 state average provided by the Indiana Department of Education. The first step determined whether each school’s students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state based on reading and math results for all students on each state’s high school proficiency tests. The rankings factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at the school to identify the schools that were performing better than statistical expectations.

For those schools that made it past this first step, the second step determined whether the school’s least-advantaged students were performing better than average for similar students in the state. Due to the diversity at Goshen, those results were key on the school’s overall high ranking, especially compared to charter and private schools that had comparable results.

Schools that made it through the first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step — college-readiness performance — using Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) test data as the barometer.

In order to win a gold or silver medal and be numerically ranked, a high school had to pass steps 1 and 2 and have a college readiness index at or above the median benchmark of 16.3. Schools with highest unrounded college readiness index values were numerically ranked from 1 to 500 and were gold medal recipients. The next group of high schools were ranked 501 to 2,008 and were silver medal winners. Goshen ranked 1,268 in the country out of nearly 22,000 schools. And test scores have only improved since the 2009-10 school year.

“Next year our numbers will be even better,” Goshen High School principal Jim Kirkton proudly stated.

The International Baccalaureate program — which attempts to tie courses together in order to provide a broad perspective of the world — is finishing up it’s fourth year at GHS. Though it is becoming more popular across the state (Northridge also has an IB program), it’s influence at Goshen is very significant.

“Even though the IB program is for juniors and seniors, it really has changed our whole school,” said IB coordinator Shelly Wilfong. “It’s about getting students engaged in the learning process, and that’s happening at all school levels.”

Students were formally told about the honor Thursday morning, however to those who use social media, news spread much earlier in the week.

“I actually heard about it through my mother, who found out about it on Facebook,” said senior Austin Collins.

“To be honest, I wasn’t terribly surprised when I heard about this, seeing the caliber of teachers we have here,” added senior Gisell Calderon.

Though the news may not have been all that shocking, students and staff are able to walk with their chests out a little bit.

“It brings a little bit of pride to know that I go to such a prestigious school,” added Stephen Place, who is pursuing his IB degree along with Calderon and Collins.

The ranking provides validation for the work that students and staff put in throughout the year, especially at a time of year where it may be easy for seniors to get complacent with one eye toward graduation.

“The best and brightest have always achieved,” Younghans said, “but something like this is ratchets up the bar for everyone.”

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