Hanford High among Tri-City area schools to rank in U.S. News best No. 1,558

Hanford High School was the only Tri-City high school to be ranked among the top 65 schools in the state by U.S. News & World Report.
Hanford High School was the only Tri-City high school to be ranked among the top 65 schools in the state by U.S. News & World Report. Tri-City Herald file

Hanford High School is the lone Tri-City school to be ranked among the 65 best in the state in annual rankings recently published by U.S. News & World Report.

The Richland high school received a silver award in the news agency’s 2016 high school rankings, putting it in the top 20 percent of U.S. public high schools. It was ranked No. 29 in the state and No. 1,558 in the nation.

Walla Walla High School also received a silver award, landing at No. 62 in Washington state and No. 2,568 in the U.S.

Three other Mid-Columbia schools were bronze award winners — Kennewick, Southridge and Kiona-Benton City high schools — but they did not receive a ranking. Six schools in the region were analyzed but did not earn awards, while nine other schools had little or no information available on their performance.

(We are) certainly honored to again receive the silver award.

Hanford High Principal Tory Christensen

U.S. News & World Report used a research firm to analyze and rank the nation’s public high schools. About a third of the more than 28,000 around the country were left off the list for having too few students to be properly reviewed.

As in past years, the media company relied on state standardized test scores, academic performance of a school’s low-income and minority students and its own College Readiness Index, or CRI, based on the number of a school’s students taking AP and International Baccalaureate exams, to rank schools.

But in a new twist, analysts also looked at graduation rates. Only schools meeting benchmarks in the other categories but also graduated a minimum of 68 percent of the Class of 2014 were ranked nationally.

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Hanford High has routinely made it into the rankings in recent years and Principal Tory Christensen said the schools is “certainly honored to again receive the silver award.”

Other schools have jumped up and down the rankings year to year. Prosser High School was ranked No. 47 in the state in 2014 and earned a silver award. The school earned no award this year and had no numeric ranking.

Kamiakin High School received the second highest College Readiness score of any analyzed Mid-Columbia high school at 24.3, beating silver award-winning Walla Walla High’s score of 21.3. Yet the school did not earn any recognition from U.S. News & World Report. Four other unranked high schools also had CRI scores above those that otherwise earned bronze awards.

Robyn Chastain, spokeswoman for the Kennewick School District, said all the district’s schools do amazing work with students. She also said that accolades such as rankings are always nice but added “they can really vary depending on what they’re based on.”

She noted that Cottonwood Elementary School is consistently the top-rated school in the district based on data analyzed on the website of nonprofit Great Schools. However, it’s Lincoln and Southgate elementary schools that were recently recognized by the state with Washington Achievement Awards for the strides made in improving student performance.

Even at Hanford High, the ranking is generally acknowledged but not otherwise celebrated.

“It’s not something where we go out and say, ‘How can we move up the ranks?’ Christensen said. “It’s nice to know we’re doing things right.”

And for parents wanting to really know whether a school will be best for their child, Chastain suggested a more hands-on approach: visit a school and talk with the principal about your hopes and concerns for your child face to face.

Public high school rankings

Hanford High School: Silver Award, No. 29 in state, No. 1,558 nationally, College Readiness Score 34

Walla Walla High School: Silver Award, No. 62 in state, No. 2,568 nationally, CRI 21.3

Southridge High School: Bronze Award, CRI 16.4

Kiona-Benton City High School: Bronze Award, CRI 7.4

Kennewick High School: Bronze Award, CRI 4.7

Kamiakin High School: CRI 24.3

Prosser High School: CRI 20.7

Richland High School: CRI 19.6

Chiawana High School: CRI 17.9

Pasco High School: CRI 15.1

Connell High School: CRI 4.7

Schools/programs not ranked/analyzed: Columbia High School, Delta High School, Legacy High School, Mid-Columbia Parent Partnership, New Horizons High School, Phoenix High School, River’s Edge High School, River View High School, Three Rivers HomeLink

Source: U.S. News & World Report