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North Hagerstown, Boonsboro high schools ranked among nation's best by Newsweek

May 20, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Two Washington County public schools have been named to Newsweek magazine's list of the top 1,300 high schools in the nation.

North Hagerstown High School was ranked No. 810 and Boonsboro High School was ranked No. 1,038, according to the list released Monday by Newsweek. Schools on the list represent the top 5 percent of high schools nationwide, according to the magazine.

The top schools were chosen based on a ratio created by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews. The formula is based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

All of the schools on the list have an index of at least 1.000

North Hagerstown High (1.56) and Boonsboro High (1.314) made the list in 2007. At that time, North Hagerstown was ranked No. 355 and Boonsboro was ranked No. 1,067.

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"We are very proud of the work of students and staff at both Boonsboro and North Hagerstown high schools," Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin said. "The fact that both schools have once again been named by Newsweek as two of the top schools in the country ... is evidence of our ongoing effort to challenge our students with rigorous curriculum. Through exposure to advanced curriculum and assessments, our goal is to provide students with opportunities and options for the future."

Seventy-seven Maryland schools were named to the 2008 list, including four in Frederick County, Md.

Boonsboro High School Principal Martin Green said he was pleased that this year's ranking included the percentage of graduates who received a "passing" score on AP exams. At Boonsboro, about one out of every four graduating seniors scored a three or higher on the exams, according to the list. North Hagerstown High School had a slightly higher number.

"It allows you to get college credit that will transfer just about anywhere," Green said, referring to a high score on an AP exam. "We try to encourage the students to take the more rigorous courses."

Twelve to 16 AP courses are offered at the school each year. These range from more traditional courses, like English, history or calculus to courses that might have only one or two students enrolled.

During this school year, a Boonsboro student enrolled in an AP macroeconomics course online and was the only student to do so, Green said.

Twenty-one North Hagerstown High School students will graduate June 6 with International Baccalaureate diplomas - another measuring stick for the challenge index. They will be the first to graduate with that honor.

North Hagerstown High School Principal Valerie Novak said that more students are enrolling in the IB program and taking tests associated with the diploma.

She said students are encouraged by "spectacular" teachers to take the rigorous courses and the exams. Novak said teachers spend hours reviewing with students and often meet them before and after school for additional support.

"I just am so proud of the teachers and students with whom they work," Novak said. "They made this happen. They are so dedicated."

For the complete Newsweek list of the country's top 1,300 high schools, go to www.newsweek.com/id/39380.

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