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Central MA’s Top High Schools 2012: How We Got the Rankings

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

 

In order to come up with a realistic ranking system, we gathered thousands of data points from publicly available resources in five specific areas. Included were MCAS proficiency scores, SAT scores, student to teacher ratios, spending per student, and total school enrollment. These individual areas were then broken down and analyzed statistically, employing methodolgy used in similar rankings created elsewhere in New England. We looked at the 372 public, charter, and technical schools in Massachusetts.

What is the Significance of Each Data Point?

The MCAS, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assesment System, is a test that every public school student is lawfully required to take. Each student must display proficiency in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and one of four Science and Technology Engineering tests in order to graduate, stipulated by the 1993 Education Reform Law. We examined scores from all three testing categories.

The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test used by college admissions that asseses a student's readiness for college. Though the test is not required, our data represents the average scores of every student that took the test from each school.

The ratio of students to teachers, the amount the school (or district) spends per student, and the total school enrollment rounded out our data.

Analyzing the Statistics

What followed was precise statistical analysis, guided by a methodology used in similar rankings created elsewhere in New England. After collecting the relevant data, we calculated the average values in each of the categories and the degree to which each school either exceeded or failed to reach those averages.

Those deviations from the average were standardized so that different categories could be compared meaningfully, and then we used a weighting formula to give certain categories more importance than others.

We wanted, for example, a school’s student-teacher ratio to matter more in our ranking than its Math SAT scores – though test scores all together account for 60% of the weighting.

The weightings for calculations were as follows:

Student/Teacher Ratio 15%

Per Pupil Spending 15%


MCAS-English 10%

MCAS-Math 10%

MCAS-Science 10%

SAT-Verbal 10%

SAT-Math 10%

SAT-Writing 10%

Graduation Rate 10%

Each school’s weighted numbers were added into a single evaluative number, which, when ordered from highest to lowest, gave us our ranking.

 

Our sister site, www.golocalprov.com, has been ranking high schools for two years. Check out last year’s list.

 

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