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Methodology: MA’s Top High Schools 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

 

GoLocalWorcester's Top High Schools in Massachusetts 2015 ranking is based on the gathering of thousands of pieces of data that directly reflect school quality: reading, math, and writing test scores (both the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, scores, as well as SATs), student-teacher ratios, spending per pupil, and graduation rates for 327 public, charter, and technical schools in the state. (Note: if schools did not report test results with MA Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, they were removed from the ranking.)

GoLocal uses data from the Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education's public databases; the analysis reflects the most current data on this site as of July, 2015. 

Process and Weighting Formulas

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.

Unlike previous year’s rankings, the 2015 ranking weighted spending per pupil at 10% (weighted at 15% in 2014) and 4-year graduation rate at 15% (weighted at 10% in 2014). This shift was done to make the results more closely tied to academic performance rather than budgetary increases.  

The weightings for calculations were as follows:

Student/Teacher Ratio 15%
Per Pupil Spending 10%
MCAS-English Language Arts 10%
MCAS-Math 10%
MCAS-Science 10%
SAT-Verbal 10%
SAT-Math 10%
SAT-Writing 10%
Graduation Rate 15%

Each school’s weighted numbers were added into a single evaluative number, which, when ordered from highest to lowest, yields the ranking. A second ranking of Central Massachusetts' Top High Schools was derived from the overall ranking statewide and will be released on Wednesday.

 

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