CHS is #485 on Newsweek’s List

Writes James Weissman:“Newsweek has a cover story on America’s Best High Schools. Using a strange metric, C’ville clocks in at #485.” Some of the methodology is explained, but James is right — it is kind of a weird system.

9 Responses to “CHS is #485 on Newsweek’s List”


  • Hallelujah — finally, we’re not #1! You hear that, NoVa-ites? Don’t move here; you have better schools!!

  • Charlottesville looks pretty good compared to NOVA and Albemarle
    5 | H-B Woodlawn | Arlington | Va. | 5.747 | 14
    23 | George Mason* | Falls Church | Va. | 4.098 | 8
    34 | W.T. Woodson | Fairfax | Va. | 3.748 | 6
    44 | Washington-Lee* | Arlington | Va. | 3.491 | 32
    50 | Langley | McLean | Va. | 3.334 | 1
    51 | Yorktown | Arlington | Va. | 3.286 | 16
    62 | Warwick* | Newport News | Va. | 3.170 | 29.6
    84 | Robinson* | Fairfax | Va. | 2.904 | 8
    87 | Clarke County* | Berryville | Va. | 2.877 | 12
    94 | Chantilly | Chantilly | Va. | 2.846 | 11
    102 | Madison | Vienna | Va. | 2.772 | 7
    103 | Oakton | Vienna | Va. | 2.763 | 10
    108 | Lake Braddock | Burke | Va. | 2.687 | 11
    126 | Westfield | Chantilly | Va. | 2.583 | 11
    128 | McLean (tie) | McLean | Va. | 2.578 | 7
    141 | West Springfield | Springfield | Va. | 2.520 | 9
    143 | Princess Anne* | Virginia Beach | Va. | 2.518 | 23
    149 | Centreville | Clifton | Va. | 2.499 | 15
    174 | Herndon | Herndon | Va. | 2.397 | 20
    187 | Marshall* | Fairfax | Va. | 2.333 | 17
    196 | Fairfax | Fairfax | Va. | 2.299 | 19
    216 | Menchville | Newport News | Va. | 2.205 | 26
    222 | Hayfield | Alexandria | Va. | 2.193 | 17
    257 | Wakefield | Arlington | Va. | 2.090 | 50
    264 | Blacksburg | Blacksburg | Va. | 2.066 | 17
    279 | Loudoun Valley | Purcellville | Va. | 2.026 | 4
    289 | Falls Church | Fairfax | Va. | 1.992 | 37
    332 | Loudoun County | Leesburg | Va. | 1.868 | 12
    344 | Stonewall Jackson* | Manassas | Va. | 1.849 | 16
    371 | Stuart* | Fairfax | Va. | 1.797 | 53
    383 | South Lakes* | Reston | Va. | 1.775 | 28
    388 | Stone Bridge | Ashburn | Va. | 1.759 | 5
    403 | West Potomac | Fairfax | Va. | 1.741 | 35
    412 | Glass | Lynchburg | Va. | 1.726 | 40
    419 | Broad Run | Ashburn | Va. | 1.713 | 8
    432 | Massaponax | Fredericksburg | Va. | 1.689 | 7
    481 | Potomac Falls | Potomac Falls | Va. | 1.592 | 9
    485 | Charlottesville | Charlottesville | Va. | 1.588 | 34.7
    505 | Midlothian* | Midlothian | Va. | 1.562 | 0
    524 | Annandale* | Annandale | Va. | 1.540 | 39
    532 | Osbourn Park | Manassas | Va. | 1.528 | 9
    541 | Park View | Sterling | Va. | 1.523 | 23
    547 | First Colonial | Virginia Beach | Va. | 1.512 | 25
    549 | Lee* | Springfield | Va. | 1.506 | 29
    586 | Gar-Field* | Woodbridge | Va. | 1.454 | 22
    593 | Brentsville | Nokesville | Va. | 1.443 | 3
    615 | Heritage | Lynchburg | Va. | 1.421 | 39.1
    623 | Poquoson | Poquoson | Va. | 1.413 | 2
    632 | Ocean Lakes | Virginia Beach | Va. | 1.408 | 24
    663 | Maury | Norfolk | Va. | 1.378 | 41.2
    671 | Cox | Virginia Beach | Va. | 1.367 | 16
    681 | Potomac | Dumfries | Va. | 1.352 | 26
    707 | Edison* | Fairfax | Va. | 1.324 | 30
    746 | Mt. Vernon* | Fairfax | Va. | 1.290 | 36
    769 | Albemarle | Charlottesville | Va. | 1.266 | 11.8
    774 | CD Hylton | Woodbridge | Va. | 1.260 | 15
    794 | Courtland | Spotsylvania | Va. | 1.238 | 6
    803 | Osbourn | Manassas | Va. | 1.232 | 13
    804 | Jamestown | Williamsburg | Va. | 1.230 | 0
    845 | Woodbridge | Woodbridge | Va. | 1.199 | 20
    886 | Western Albemarle | Crozet | Va. | 1.153 | 7.8

  • Charlottesville looks pretty good compared to NOVA

    How do you figure that, with 29 NOVA schools ranked ahead of CHS? Charlottesville has a grand total of ONE public high school, and it’s ranked #485. Fairfax County has several dozen high schools, and TWELVE of them are in the top 200. That seems profoundly superior to me.

    If you ask me, Charlottesville looks pretty pathetic compared to Northern Virginia. Albemarle looks a lot worse. When our School Board member comes around next time (to her credit, she goes door-to-door quite a bit, just to chat), she’s going to have some ‘splainin’ to do.

  • HA!
    I graduated from WT Woodson, my husband graduated from Fairfax…the education my kids got at CHS was 485% better! Perhaps because they were students, not numbers! There is nothing to compare to a small (less than 1000) high school for meeting the needs and challenging teen-agers.
    Go Black Knights!

  • cville_libertarian

    I just have to comment: yet again, much of this is a result of the demographics of the district populations. The top NOVa schools have neighborhoods/districts that have priced out the lower economic strata.

    There is not the same kind of ‘diversity’ in NoVa we have here. Indeed, the observation that we have just one school really gets it backwards: we have just one, so that one school represents the entire community, not a self-selected subset. Segregation via self-selection is alive and well in this country, and our kids are fortunate to live in a city where everyone shares the same public schools, from upper elementry on up. Why do you think Real Estate agents always have schools listed on the MLS sheets (given the amount of information they’d prefer not to put down)?

    I think that exposure goes a long way to building a better society; I think the kind of self-segregation of St. Anne’s (economic), Covenant (cultural) and Montessouri/[Peabody|Renaissance] (‘intellectual?’) ultimately short-changes their students. Rather than worrying about making all public school students come out of the system looking identical, better to figure out a way to meet their different needs, within the school. The city schools are bi-polar, and there are ‘schools within a school’, but the kids actually all get along pretty well, with a minimum of racial/socio-economic/’class’ strife.

    The NOVa schools do churn out a lot of high-achieving kids; what are they taking in as inputs?

    Are test scores and AP enrollment really the best measures of a school’s performance?

    Not too shabby a performance, given all we’ve been hearing about how badly the CCPS fail in their mission. CHS has a top level program worth protecting.

    On a personal note: I was just bummed to see that EC Glass beat out CHS.

  • There is not the same kind of ‘diversity’ in NoVa we have here.

    That statement is incomprehensibly inaccurate. Have you ever been to NoVa?

    Actually – I take that back. It is accurate. Charlottesville has almost no diversity compared to NoVa.

    You just have to visit the homepage for the Fairfax County Public Schools to see that even their web site is available in SEVEN languages other than English – Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Urdu.

    Yes, Urdu.

    Here are some basic “diversity” stats for FCPS:

    African American: 10.7%
    American Indian: .3%
    Asian American: 17.2%
    Hispanic: 15.5%
    Multiracial: 4.5%
    White: 51.4%

    Students receiving free and reduced meals: 19.9%
    English for Speakers of Other languages (ESOL) students: 22,868
    Students receiving special education services: 24,000

    The only figures I could find about Charlottesville City Public Schools are

    African-American: 48.4%
    White: 42.7%
    Hispanic: 3.1%
    Asian: 2.1%
    48% eligible for free and reduced meals (it doesn’t say how many actually receive them)

    In terms of diversity, Fairfax takes it hands down. C’ville doesn’t match it system-wide in terms of economics, however. Predictably, Fairfax County as a whole is quite a bit more affluent. However, that doesn’t apply to every school, nor to all of the schools that kicked CHS’s butt in these rankings.

    The high school I graduated from , J.E.B. Stuart in Falls Church, used to be nearly homogenous when I was there (back in the abacus and papyrus days). Now, however, it’s about as diverse as any school in the country: Two-thirds of students are second language learners from over 70 countries. 336 out of 1402 students are currently enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Language. That’s pretty darn diverse, and has to present some enormous challenges in terms of curriculum.

    Newsweek ranks its subsidized lunches as 53, vs 34.7 for CHS. This figure is the percent of student body that is eligible for free and reduced lunches, an indicator of socio-economic status. A number of 40 percent generally signifies a high concentration of children in poverty. So this particular FCPS high school is well below CHS in economic terms.

    Stuart ranked #371, more than 100 places higher than CHS. Albemarle schools suck in comparison.

    When our kids were in county schools here, we always thought they weren’t being challenged, and that they weren’t receiving the kind of instruction we received back in the black & white TV days. Their homework was mostly busy work (usually with answers provided for math), and very few of their teachers (except English) ever considered spelling and grammar when grading papers. I find that stupifyingly amazing! One of our kids consistently brought home papers we could literally barely read…but they had received passing grades. Try encouraging your kids to dot their “i’s” and cross their “t’s” when their teachers so obviously don’t give a shit about tedius things in education like spelling and grammar. When he was in 11th grade, our boy was given a history assignment and was told that this time spelling and punctuation would count in the grade, and he freaked out because that was something new.

    I know, I know – you don’t have to tell me that all teachers here are bad, I know damn well that’s not the case. I also know damn well that enough of them are. I also know that there are administrators who couldn’t care less.

    One year, one of our kids had to go to summer school for Health (Yeah, pretty lame). When we enrolled her, we questioned the cost, and were told that basically we were paying for a grade. How utterly true. During her summer school health class, I do not exaggerate when I estimate that of the entire time she went, about half of it was spent doing unrelated activities, such as going on field trips to Putt-Putt, going on “nature walks” on Lamb’s Road, and watching commercial movies with no apparent Health connection. Fortunatley, there was no final exam. They probably would have charged extra for that.

    So are the FCPS better? Hell yes.

  • Big_Al, you do realize that this list of 1000+ schools comprises the top 4% of schools in the country, right? Therefore, CHS is in the top 2% in the country according to this list. How is that “pathetic”?

  • What I wrote was “If you ask me, Charlottesville looks pretty pathetic compared to Northern Virginia. Albemarle looks a lot worse.” I stand by that statement.

    I think a lot of this comes from relativey ineffective local governments. Oh, they love to talk the talk, but that’s about all they do. The City can’t make a decision without chartering committees, subcommittees, and commissions to study issue after issue. They actually put together a commission to oversee the hiring of the next school superintendent – I guess they figure they erred when the appointed the school board – we are supposed to trust them to pick the right people this time?

    The City and County can’t even make a decision on something as vital as water – if there’s another drought like there was a couple of years ago, we’re so screwed! I certainly hope the tap is turned off at City Councilor’s and County Supervisor’s homes before they go after the people who fund their follies. Last time it didn’t matter at the ballot box. That won’t be the case next time.

    Don’t get me wrong – these are good people who care deeply about this community. They definitely want to do good, and they seek the best possible results. I am under no illusion that there are any nefarious motivations at play here. The problem is, they seem clueless about how to achieve the best possible results, so they rarely do. If they behaved this way in a business environment, they would go hungry. You can’t keep deferring decisions. I sense a strong fear of failure in a lot of the things they say and do.

    If you think that chronic indecisiveness, that lack of a results-oriented culture, doesn’t filter to school boards (either Albemarle’s elected one or the City’s appointed one), I think you’re sadly mistaken.

  • cville_libertarian

    Big Al – you cover a lot of ground, and we are talking apples-to-apples in some cases and apples-to-oranges in others. I will try to repond more completely this weekend.

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