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Best High School in the Nation?

I received an email from a reader about Park City Schools:

After hearing Dr. Conley’s talk about being the ‘best’ in the nation, I wondered what metric for scholastic achievement they are using.

According to the 2015 US News/ World Report, out of the 20,000 or so high schools in the country, PCHS is not even listed in the top 4,000. We are, in fact right in the middle of the pack, where UT schools are considered, of which Timpview HS in Provo ranked #952 nationally, earning a ‘Silver’ rating.

PCHS does fairly well in Language proficiency – 96%, but falls down in Math – 59% proficiency.

College readiness is 52.4 out of a possible 100

This is particularly infuriating to me, when considering the District’s planned juggling of grades, moving schools out of our community, and schemes for huge sports complexes, all at significant impact to our school neighborhoods and great expense to taxpayers.

I think it’s time the District & Project Team come clean, and re-focus on quality education for Park City students.

I share this person’s frustration. I have been in meetings with School Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley where she has said that in the upcoming US News Rankings that we may be one of the top schools in the country. I love the passion but I question the reality. I checked into the rankings the reader referenced.

The highest ranked school in Utah is Timpview High. It is ranked 952 nationally, as the reader stated. Wasatch High (in Heber) is the 6th ranked school in Utah and #1803 in the nation. There are 14 Utah high schools ranked in the top US News High Schools and unfortunately Park City High isn’t one of them. It appears that approximately 7,000 high schools are ranked nationally by US News, and since Park City isn’t ranked at all, it would put us somewhere between a “ranking” of 7,000 and 21,000 according to the magazine. Getting from where we are to “one of the top schools” will be interesting to see… unless “top school” just means getting ranked somewhere in the top 7,000 schools in the country.

You may say that “US News Rankings are just silly and don’t mean much.” You may be right. I would then bring up that Park City High School was ranked 14th in the state’s SAGE testing. You may say, “those are horrible standardized tests and mean nothing.” You may be right on that too.

Yet, I’ll come back to what the reader said. If you’re going to call yourself the best, then you have to provide SOME metric that demonstrates that. Perhaps there is a metric that proves some outside organization ranks Park City as one of the best high schools in the country. I certainly hope so. For now though, that claim seems to just be something someone said. And as a friend of mine used to say, “just because you say something, it doesn’t make it true.”





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