Aspen High School ranked best in state

Jeanne McGovernThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen High School is the No. 1 high school in Colorado and 59th in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.The magazine’s rankings, which were released online Tuesday, took into account nearly 22,000 public high schools across the country, giving the top performers gold, silver and bronze medals. Aspen High was one of 18 schools in the state to receive gold.”The Aspen School District is only as successful as its schools,” said Superintendent John Maloy. “Without the ongoing support from the community, the involvement of parents, and the guidance provided by the pre-K through 12th-grade teachers, an outstanding result such as this would not be possible.”The magazine analyzed schools in a three-step process using mostly 2009-10 data. The first two steps looked at how schools scored in areas such as mathematics and reading compared with other schools in their states, factoring in social and economic demographics that account for low scores. Schools that scored in the top 25 percentile in their state were then judged on “college readiness,” which was based on International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement test data. The numerical result of these benchmarks created the rankings.”The Best High Schools project identifies the country’s top-performing public high schools,” the U.S. World & News Report website states. “The goal is to provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public schools serve all of their students – from the highest achieving to the lowest achieving – in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work.”This is where Aspen students came out on top.”This is a testament to how well our students performed on the state assessment and how well prepared they are for college-level work, as determined by the success on IB exams,” Maloy said. According to U.S. World & News Report, 85 percent of Aspen High seniors took IB tests, and 84 percent passed those exams.Three out of four of Aspen’s “Colorado Match” schools received medals: Cherry Creek ranked 11th, Cheyenne Mountain placed 13th, and Steamboat Springs was 23rd. No other Roaring Fork Valley high school received a medal.”Education drives our country’s future,” states the website. “Recognizing schools that are performing well and providing them as models to other schools will inspire educators and communities to do better.”But Maloy also recognizes that the ranking is just one piece of a larger picture.”Although the district is excited that such recognition has come to Aspen High School, receiving national recognition has not been a stated goal. … (We) strive to have all students maximize their learning potential and meet or exceed the district’s rigorous standards for performance and success,” he said. “We realize that with this high standard and the continued value and importance we place on educating the whole child – which is not the goal of many public schools throughout the country – that national recognition such as this may be viewed as icing on the cake, so to speak.”On that note, Maloy continued to say that he believes Aspen High’s No. 1 ranking is deserved as it took a lot of hard work and commitment to get there.”It is possible that many people outside the valley may perceive that the Aspen School District has unlimited resources and wealth, especially in terms of dollars, and thus such a ranking is automatic,” he said, adding that like all school districts, Aspen has faced a budget crisis and has cut more than $2.1 million from its budget over the past four years. “These challenging economic times have proven that the true wealth of the district goes beyond dollars – it is measured in its people. “This wealth of people in the Aspen community is a resource that is extremely difficult to place a dollar amount on yet is greatly responsible for the overall performance and success of the schools and the district.”