All three Wells County school systems ranked highly by U.S News and World Report

Wells County schools were high in rankings released by U.S. News and World Report. 

When it comes to schools in the Fort Wayne metro area, all three Wells County high schools ranked in the top 10 out of 18 schools with Bluffton High School at No. 5, Norwell High School at No. 7 and Southern Wells Junior-Senior High School at No. 9. The Fort Wayne metro area is led in the rankings by Carroll High School, Homestead Senior High School, Leo Junior-Senior High School and East Allen University. 

When it comes to how schools across the state measure up, BHS is still in the top 20 percent. Out of 421 schools in Indiana that were ranked, BHS is at 84th. NHS is at 135th, placing it in the top third of the state, and Southern Wells is at 180th, which keeps it well within the top half of state rankings. 

The organization released rankings on a national level, within each state, and in numerous metro areas across the country. Out of the 17,245 schools ranked across the country, BHS is at 4,369th, NHS at 5,798th and Southern Wells at 7,115th. 

BHS Principal Steve Baker said he was thrilled to be ranked highly when it comes to local, state and national levels. 

“It’s just one more data point among others that we look at that says how we are doing as a school and what we are always doing to get better,” he said. 

The rankings are based on six categories — college readiness (30 percent of total score), math and reading proficiency (20 percent), math and reading performance (20 percent), underserved student performance (10 percent), college curriculum breadth (10 percent), and graduation rate (10 percent). 

College readiness is based on the amount of seniors that passed at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test. Passing counts for three times the points as just taking the test does. 

Math and reading proficiency is based on the aggregated scores on state assessments that students may be required to pass for graduation. Math and reading performance is similar but takes into account U.S. News’ expectations giving the proportions of students who are black, Hispanic and from low-income households. 

Underserved student performance is based on “scores on state assessments aggregated just among students who are black, Hispanic and from low-income households. These scores are compared to what is typical in the state for non-undeserved students, with parity or higher being the goal,” according to the U.S. News and World Report website. 

College curriculum breadth is based on the amount of seniors who took and passed AP or IB exams in multiple areas. 

All three local high school principals are looking how to improve their schools in some of the categories the ranking included. 

“We’re proud that the hard work of our staff and students is being recognized through this award but we understand there is still work to be done,” said Southern Wells Principal Kati Todd in an email. “We’d love to see ourselves in the Top 5 in years to come and we are thankful that we have a staff that understands and is willing to put in the kind of work that it takes to get us there.”

NHS Principal David Parker said the school was already working on things like adding more AP courses before the rankings came out. Read more about AP and dual credit courses local high schools added for the 2019-20 school year in the Friday edition of the News-Banner. 

“No one gets into education for awards, accolades, or rankings but it’s nice to know that our students are achieving at moderately high levels,” he said. “In discussions I’ve had with students, parents, and teachers about the programs that are tied to these rankings, we are intent on making some major strides in our achievement levels in the upcoming years.”

Baker said he wishes things like dual credit courses, which have risen in popularity, and the strength of diplomas were taken into account. 

“I understand that since they are doing the whole United States, they have to find consistent data points that are used in every state,” he said.

However, Baker said it says a lot to see all three Wells County public high schools in the Top 10 for schools in the Fort Wayne metro area. 

“That tells me that Wells County offers its citizens and students a great education,” he said. 

Story by Devan Filchak, Courtesy of the News-Banner


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