US News & World Report on Tuesday published its annual list of Best High Schools ranking schools across America, and Wilton High School has moved up the charts for both national and state rankings for 2019.

This year, WHS rises one notch within Connecticut, up from 10th to ninth (out of 228 schools) for 2019. Compared to high schools across the country, WHS is at number 424 nationally, up from last year’s spot at 439 (out of 17,245 schools). Officials base the rankings on student standardized test scores and how well students are prepared for college.

One ranking did trend downward:  this year, WHS was ranked #244 in STEM high schools, falling from 98 in 2018.

The changes in the rankings are rooted in the “very different” and “more comprehensive” way the magazine is characterizing its 2019 list. In fact, U.S. News says it ranked roughly 6-7 times as many schools as in its previous edition, and expanded its state-level rankings as well. Under the new ranking methodology, more than 17,000 public high schools–2,700 more than 2,700 last year–using six ranking factors, each of which is weighted to produce an overall score that the ranking is based on.

U.S. News officials say that the new methodology better reflects how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college. Before 2019, schools had been categorized as being gold, silver and bronze as an indication of how well they prepare students for college, but are no longer categorized this way. Wilton High School had been named among the “best,” earning a “gold” ranking from the magazine for 2018.

Under the new methodology, schools were rated on the six measures, and the weights used for each indicator are in parentheses:

  • College readiness (30% of the ranking):  The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2016-2017 who took at least one AP or IB exam during high school and the percentage of 12th graders who passed at least one AP or IB exam in high school. Passing is weighted three times more than taking.
  • College curriculum breadth (10%):  The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2016-2017 who took a wide variety of AP and IB courses across the multiple disciplines and the percentage of 12th graders who passed them. Passing is weighted three times more than taking.
  • Reading and math proficiency (20%):  Measures how well students scored on state assessments that measure proficiency in reading and mathematics. Passing these assessments can be required for graduation. Examples of assessments include Smarter Balanced in California and STAAR in Texas.
  • Reading and math performance (20%):  The difference between how students performed on state assessments and what U.S. News predicted based on a school’s student body. U.S. News‘ modeling across all 50 states and the District of Columbia indicates that the proportions of students who receive subsidized school lunch, are black and are Hispanic are highly predictive of a school’s reading and math scores.
  • Underserved student performance (10%):  How well the student population receiving subsidized school lunch, and black and Hispanic populations perform on state assessments relative to statewide performance among students not in those subgroups.
  • Graduation rate (10%):  For the 2019 rankings, the graduation rate corresponds to the 2017 graduation cohort who would have entered ninth grade in the 2013-14 school year. The high school graduation rates were collected directly from each state along with the math and reading assessment data.

US News describes WHS as:  “Wilton High School is ranked ninth within Connecticut. Students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams. The AP participation rate at Wilton High School is 61%. The total minority enrollment is 15%, and 2% of students are economically disadvantaged. Wilton High School is the only high school in the Wilton School District.”

The other schools in our DRG (district reference group) also made appearances on the Best High Schools list in the following order:

Darien:  #1 in CT (was #9); #150 in U.S. (was #410)
Weston:  # 2 in CT (was #13); #169 in U.S. (was #458)
Ridgefield:  #4 in CT (was #5); #317 in U.S. (was #332)
New Canaan:  #6 in CT (was #15); #342 in U.S. (was #472)
Westport’s Staples:  #7 in CT (was #8), #361 in U.S. (was #394)
Wilton:  #9 in CT (was #10), #424 in U.S. (was #439)
Redding/Joel Barlow:  #18 in CT (was #16), #726 in U.S. (was #592)