Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, a Lindon charter school for students in grades 7 through 12, has retained its position as Utah’s best high school in the latest rankings by U.S. News and World Report.
The annual rankings, released Wednesday, are primarily based on test scores, graduation rates and student demographics. In addition to its top spot for the state, Maeser ranked as No. 698 among the nation’s public schools.
“Top-ranked schools succeed in three main areas: exceeding expectations on state proficiency tests, offering challenging coursework and graduating their students,” Anita Narayan, U.S. News’ managing editor of education, said in a statement.
“We encourage parents to use the Best High Schools rankings and data to research which schools in their state and nationwide are ensuring students are well-equipped for the future,” Narayan said.
Maeser was joined in the top 1,000 nationally by two other Utah schools. Davis High School ranked 754 and the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science — or AMES — ranked 985. AMES is an early college charter on the campus of Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City.
Robyn Ellis, director of Maeser, said the school is not focused on test scores. Instead, she said, the school takes a “holistic” approach, with a classical education style, that has the added benefit of preparing students for standardized assessments.
“We try to prepare them more for life,” Ellis said, “and testing is just one of those things that happens to come along with the education.”
Utah’s Top 10 public high schools
1. Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Lindon, charter
2. Davis High School, Kaysville, Davis School Disrict
3. Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (AMES), Murray, charter
4. Corner Canyon High School, Draper, Canyons School District
5. Brighton High School, Cottonwood Heights, Canyons School District
6. Viewmont High School, Bountiful, Davis School District
7. InTech Collegiate High School, North Logan, charter
8. Timpview High School, Provo, Provo School District
9. Bountiful High School, Bountiful, Davis School District
10. Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (NUAMES), Layton, charter
Source: U.S. News and World Report
Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy enrolls roughly 630 students in six grade levels. One in four students are racial and ethnic minorities, according to state Board of Education data, and the school’s graduation rate is above 95 percent.
“It’s nice being a small school so that we can know them individually and what their needs are,” Ellis said.
Three Davis School District schools were included in Utah’s top 10, with Viewmont and Bountiful earning positions 6 and 9, respectively, behind second-ranked Davis High School.
Davis is Utah’s second-largest school district, with more than 72,000 students. Spokesman Chris Williams said the rankings show the teamwork happening between parents and teachers, which is what makes any school great.
“If you establish a working relationship with your children’s teacher, that school is going to be an excellent school,” Williams said. “Kudos to Davis, Viewmont and Bountiful — fabulous — but it continues to be something that could only occur if there is a team effort going on.”
The new rankings show some schools slipping within Utah, relative to the rest of the nation. In 2017, three Utah schools earned “gold” status, demarcating the top 500 nationally. This year, the state’s top 10 schools were all designated as “silver” by U.S. News and World Report.
To calculate the rankings, schools are scored on their performance on math and reading assessments, relative to the averages in their respective states, and the proportion of their student body who are racial minorities or economically disadvantaged.
Schools also must have a minimum graduation rate of 80 percent to qualify for the rankings, and added weight is given based on the number of students who complete Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.