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BoMag Says LHS is the Second Best High School In and Around Boston

Is that too high, too low or just right?

A hat tip is in order for for landing the No. 2 spot on Boston Magazine’s Best Schools of 2012 list. 

The regional magazine based its rankings on data collected in more than a dozen categories, including things like test scores, per pupil expenditures and the number of AP classes, sports, clubs and student-teacher ratio. 

Lexington finished a close second to Weston High, a district with reportedly higher per-pupil expenditures and which sends a greater percentage of students to college than LHS, but which falls just short of Lexington when it comes to test scores and number of sports, AP classes and clubs offered here. That's all according to BoMag's evaluation.

Rounding out the top five high schools on Boston Magazine’s list—which includes 222 schools inside of 495—are Dover-Sherborn, Concord-Carlisle and Wellesley High. Lexington has by far the highest enrollment among those schools.

Breaking down the numbers a little further, Concord-Carlisle had the highest percentage of students achieving proficiency on AP exams, with 98.7 percent. Finishing the top five were Acton-Boxboro, Lincoln-Sudbury, Lexington High (95.2 percent) and Newton South, and all five checked in with a very respectable proficiency rate of 95 percent or greater.

According to BoMag, in determining the Best of Schools of 2012, the most weight was given to academics, including performance on MCAS, SATs, and AP exams. Graduation rates and the percentage of students who go to college were also considered, while this year the magazine “dialed back—slightly—the importance placed on student-teacher ratio and per-pupil spending, because while they do contribute to learning, recent studies show that they’re not educational silver bullets.” The number of sports and clubs offered are also considered.

So with that in mind, what do you think? Are you OK with Lexington's rank as the second-best high school in and around Boston, or do you think this district is second-to-none? Let us know in the comment section below.

Tom Diaz August 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM
This is the second time, in short order, that you have published a superficial ranking of schools, ranking Lexington, but evidently without asking for a quote from a knowledgeable person like Lexington's Superintendent. It is not illuminating to just put statistics out there, or, in essence link to them. Boston Magazine published the story, so what has the Patch added other than asking us what we think? Here's a bit of what you might have heard from the Superintendent: It's nice that Boston Magazine thinks so highly of us--i.e., shares our own high opinion of what our schools are doing. However, they will not divulge the details of how they compute the ranking, which is "proprietary." They talk about "expert analysis" that backs up their ranking, but of course, that is not the way real experts go about their business. I am in any event suspicious of their expertise. For instance, their comment on per-pupil spending is as follows: "The old educational equation was simple: Spend more money—on teacher salaries, technology, administration, sports, clubs—and students will perform better." I have never met an educator or school committee member in the last 25 years who had such a simple-minded attitude. Lexington has been a counterexample for a very long time. We are far down in the ranks when it comes to per-pupil spending. Destroying this straw man is not the work of an expert. Tom Diaz Town Meeting member and former School Committee member
Deb August 31, 2012 at 03:32 PM
From your reaction, Tom, you would think we were ranked much lower than #2! Think of it as an Olympic Silver Medal - not bad at all!
Tom Diaz September 01, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I'm not unhappy about being 2nd of all the schools! Of course I think we're first, but the Silver is okay. The problem is that the formula is "proprietary" and therefore useless. Back in 2008 the same people ranked us 52nd in something called "cost efficiency," and then they wouldn't explain what that meant! Whether you do well or badly on such a scale, it's not meaningful if the authors are so unprofessional.
Andrei Radulescu-Banu September 01, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Tom is right, this ranking is superficial and of little use because the ranking formula is not revealed. The reason LHS offers more AP classes and sports that Weston High probably has to do with the fact that LHS is a 2.5 times larger student population. We have a 95.2% Scoring AP Proficiency compared to Weston %87.7; that's good but we're not told how much of the difference reflects higher student performance in Lexington and how much reflects a more selective process for students to enter the AP program. Also, the 10th grade MCAS is hardly a measure of student performance, given that it has roughly the level of an 8th grade test.
Mariah September 02, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I'm surprised that Newton isn't #1 with its new multi-million-dollar high school!
Helene Mayer September 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Andrei and Tom are correct. Without transparency, the rankings are all but useless. We would never accept the results of a medical study presented in this manner. I have two children who are LHS graduates and one currently enrolled. On the whole, LHS has done an excellent job of educating my children. Of course, improvements can always be made. Rankings, done properly, could actually be useful to that effect.
John Chamberlain September 06, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I like to hear the good news, too, as a taxpayer and a teacher in town. But if we push for precision, other "soft" questions beg to be asked. How do you rank a gene pool? Engaged parental involvement? Parental success, not just in terms of a socioeconomic boost, but as measured in students' high standards? The popcorn effect, where a group succeeds because there's a critical mass of engaged students? Intangibles like these can't be measured in a proprietary formula. The sheer number of clubs at LHS gives insight into the great intangible of self-expression and positive peer relations. Go, LHS!
fitzroy September 13, 2012 at 02:19 AM
These "rankings" should only be used to highlight those schools that need to be improved, not for the indulgent practice of congratulatory self-backslapping.
Mariah September 13, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Says who? "Indulgent practice of congratulatory self-backslapping"??? You mean "taking pride in"? Because most of us who ever attended LHS just feel a simple sense of pride about being from a good school, and a sense of gratitude for our parents having been able to afford to live in a town where good schools and education are a mandate.

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