Cullman High School in top 10% in U.S. News and World Report 2021 high school report

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Cullman High School. (Tribune file photo) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, U.S. News and World Report issued its annual rankings of over 17,800 high schools across the country, and Cullman High School came in at number 1,490, placing it well within the top 10% of high schools in the nation. Fairview High School and West Point High School landed in the top 20% at 3,299 and 3,456, respectively. 

The review was based on the 2018-19 school year, before and not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Though 17,860 schools were ranked, over 24,000 were reviewed by the news agency. Some schools were dropped because of missing data that prevented a full review, and approximately 5,700 schools went unranked after review, meaning that approximately 23,560 schools were able to be reviewed fully. Taking these numbers into account, Cullman’s actual percentile rank was in the top 7% among all public high schools fully reviewed, with Fairview and West Point were in the top 15%.  

Cullman, Fairview and West Point all improved their standings over the rankings issued in 2020, which covered the 2017-18 school year. Cullman was number 1,688 nationally in that report and Fairview was number 4,022. No other area schools made it into the top 25% in the 2020 report. 

In rankings among 361 high schools in the state of Alabama, Cullman High ranked in the top 5% at number 16, followed by Fairview (35, top 10%), West Point (37), Good Hope (148), Vinemont (156), Cold Springs (199) and Hanceville (232). Holly Pond High School finished between 245 and 361, but was not assigned a specific number ranking.  

On the state level, Cullman High improved three points over its number 19 ranking in 2020. Fairview improved from 48th place, and West Point made a leap from 110. State rankings for other Cullman area schools in 2020 included: 

  •  Good Hope – 148, same in 2021 
  • Holly Pond – 203, dropped in 2021 
  • Hanceville – 204, improved in 2021 
  • Vinemont – 226, improved in 2021 
  • Cold Springs – unranked between 251 and 359, improved in 2021 

The U.S. News and World Report rankings are based on college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates, as follows: 

  •  College readiness (30% of the ranking): The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2018- 2019 who took at least one AP or IB exam by the end of their senior year and the percentage of 12th graders who earned a qualifying score on at least one AP or IB exam in high school. Earning a qualifying score is weighted three times more than taking. 
  • College curriculum breadth (10%): The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2018-2019 who took a wide variety of AP and IB courses across the multiple disciplines and the percentage of 12th graders who earned a qualifying score on them. Earning a qualifying score is weighted three times more than taking.  
  • Reading and math proficiency (20%): Measures how well students scored on state assessments that measure proficiency in reading and mathematics. Passing these assessments can be required for graduation. Examples of assessments include Smarter Balanced in California and STAAR in Texas.  
  • Reading and math performance (20%): The difference between how students performed on state assessments and what U.S. News predicted based on a school’s student body. U.S. News’ modeling across all 50 states and the District of Columbia indicates that the percentage of students from historically underserved subgroups – defined as black students, Hispanic students and students who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch – are highly predictive of a school’s reading and math scores.  
  • Underserved student performance (10%): How well the student population receiving subsidized school lunch and black and Hispanic populations perform on state assessments relative to statewide performance among students not in those subgroups.  
  • Graduation rate (10%): For the 2021 rankings, the graduation rate corresponds to the 2019 graduation cohort who would have entered ninth grade in the 2015-2016 school year. The high school graduation rates were collected directly from each state along with the math and reading assessment data. 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com