Norwell High School has been named one of the top secondary schools in America by Newsweek magazine – for the fifth year in a row.
Norwell ranked 671st on the list of 1,623 high schools -- or 6 percent of the 27,000-or-so public high schools in the United States. NHS has been bouncing around the rankings for years – it was 785th in 2009, 699th in 2008, 624th in 2007, and 396th in 2006.
Among Massachusetts schools, Norwell ranked 12th on the list, which was headed by Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, MATCH Charter School, and Boston Latin School in Boston.
Schools are chosen on the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge (AICE) tests given, and the number of seniors gradating in May or June of a given school year.
“AP, IB, and Cambridge are important because they give average students a chance to experience the trauma of heavy college reading lists and long, analytical college examinations,” contributing editor Jay Matthews wrote in a Frequently Asked Questions page on the website.
The rankings do not consider how well students perform on the tests, just how many students take them.
“I decided not to count passing rates in the way schools had done in the past because I found that most American high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses. In other instances, they opened the courses to all but encouraged only the best students to take the tests,” Matthews wrote.
The data are taken from the prior academic year’s performance, so the 2010 figures are a reflection of the achievements in 2009, Matthews wrote.
But merely making the list, not a school’s placement on the list, is what matters, Matthews wrotes.
“I rank to get attention, with the hope that people will argue about the list and, in the process, think about the issues it raises,” he wrote in the FAQ page.