Over the weekend I read that U.S. News released its annual collection of high school rankings—and, lo and behold—Delaware’s public high schools landed as eighth-best in the country.
Before we pop the champagne, we should note that the website’s methodology examines the highest performing high schools in each state. We realize that some of Delaware’s highest performers select their students, at least in part, on some entrance criteria, and do not always reflect the full diversity of the state’s overall student body.
But this is still cause for celebration. Delaware ranked eighth because six of its schools (or roughly 17.6 percent) earned “gold or silver medals” from the publication.
- Gold: Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Charter School of Wilmington
- Silver: Middletown High School, Caesar Rodney High School, Mount Pleasant High School, Sussex Technical High School
The lofty ranking is one more positive sign of momentum for Delaware’s schools—and seemingly a shifting tide in the perception and reputation of our public school system. In the past few years we’ve seen:
- Delaware high school graduations rates spike from 80 percent to 85 percent (see Rodel’s “At A Glance” page on graduation rate trends). Delaware was the No. 1 state in terms of increased high school graduation rate in 2014 as recognized by The U.S. Department of Education.
- More students enrolling in AP and dual enrollment courses than ever before. In fact, the number of student taking dual enrollment college courses tripled from 800 in 2014 to 2,700 in 2015-16.
As encouraging as all this is, we can’t rest on our laurels. We have lots more work to do in preparing our high school grads for college and/or careers.
For example, we know that just 49 percent of Delaware’s young adult population (ages 18-24) has attained some postsecondary education and that by 2025, 65 percent of jobs in our economy will require some level of education beyond high school. Closing that gap will be tough, particularly for our highest need students.
But with the forward movement in our high schools, the growing partnerships with our higher ed partners to increase dual enrollment and college persistence, and our deepening commitments from business and education to build meaningful career pathways for students, I’m excited about where we are and where we’re going.