Patapsco again ranked among nation’s best high schools
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 12:32

School is 40th in state, 1,690th in the nation

by Bill Gates

    When Craig Reed became the latest Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts principal last summer, he said he considered the school “an undiscovered gem.”
    The “undiscovered” part may be becoming harder to justify, what with U.S. News and World Report continuing to single out Patapsco for national honors.
    For the second year in a row, Patapsco High received a silver medal and was ranked among the nation’s best schools in the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best High Schools” list of top public high schools.
    “We’re getting discovered,” Reed said. “Patapsco is a special place.

“We focus on doing the right thing every day. If we win an award for that, great. We’re just going to keep on focusing on doing the right thing, every day.”
    Patapsco was ranked 40th in the state of Maryland (out of 244 schools) and 1,690th in the nation (out of nearly 20,000).
    “It leaves us something to work for next year,” Reed joked on the school’s earning a silver medal rather than gold.
    Schools were judged on four criteria: student/teacher ratio, college readiness, algebra proficiency and English proficiency.
    A “gold medal” means a school places in the top 500 schools based on a high degree of student college readiness.
    “Silver medal” schools are high-performing but have a lower degree of student college readiness.
    And how was “college readiness” judged? By measuring what percentage of seniors took Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and what percentage passed those courses.
    Patapsco had 38 percent of its students test for AP courses, and 17 percent passed.
    The top-ranked school in Maryland, Walt Whitman High, had 91 percent take AP tests, and 83 percent passed.
    Eastern Tech, the highest-rated Baltimore County school (7th in the state, 270th nationally) had 69 percent of its seniors test, and 55 percent pass.
    Patapsco’s student/teacher ratio is 16:1 (1,442 students and 93 full-time teachers), which is about the state average.
    The school had 92 percent of its students score “proficient” in the algebra High School Assessment tests (HSAs) and 90 percent score proficient in English.
    Whitman has a 17:1 student/teacher ratio, a 96 percent score in algebra proficiency and 97 percent in English.
    Eastern Tech has a 17:1 student/teacher ratio and scored 100 percent in both algebra and English proficiency.
    Forty-two Maryland schools made the list of the nation’s best schools, including five from Baltimore County.
    In addition to Patapsco and Eastern Tech, the Baltimore County schools are Towson High (8th state, 273rd nationally), Western School of Technology and Environmental Science (34th, 1,324th) and Loch Raven High (35th, 1,353rd).
    Dundalk High and Sparrows Point High did not earn a ranking or a medal.
    Dundalk has a 14:1 student/teacher ratio, better than the state average, but had only 14 percent of its seniors test for AP courses, with seven percent passing.
    The school’s algebra proficiency score is 80 percent and the English score is 78 percent.
    Sparrows Point also has a 14:1 student/teacher ratio; 16 percent of its seniors tested for AP courses, with nine percent passing, while 96 percent of its students tested proficient in the algebra HSA and 91 percent tested proficient in English.
    Overall, it’s been even tougher recently to consider anything at Patapsco to be “undiscovered.”
    The school has had, over the last year or so, the state Teacher of the Year, Sean McComb; the Instructional Assistant of the Year, Terry Grimes; the Building Service Worker of the Year, Wanda Grimes; and the Athletic Director of the Year, Chris McGuinness.
    “We had a lot of  ‘...of the Year’ people at one time,” Reed said. “That’s pretty good for a little school in Dundalk.”
    It also underscores the strength of Patapsco’s faculty and staff.
    “There is an environment here that is really supportive and allows a lot of good things to happen,” Reed said. “This is an easy place to be principal. There are a lot of good people here.”