Despite a drop of 18 spots from last year, Eastside High School’s principal is pleased with the 35th place ranking of the school on The Washington Post’s list of most challenging high schools.
“It’s very affirming for us to be rated one of the top high schools in the country,” Principal Jeff Charbonnet said. “It’s a great credit to our awesome teachers, but also our students, who come with the real triple-challenge of being curious, being bright and being very hard-working as well. It’s great when you work very hard (and) you get the recognition for it.”
The Washington Post used its own system to create an index score as the basis for the rankings. The score is created by taking the number of college tests, such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advance International Certificate of Education (AICE), given at a school in 2012 and dividing it by the number of graduates that year. A score of one means the school had as many tests as graduates.
The ranking also lists the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.
Eastside’s index number is 7.409, a drop of 1.612 from last year. The No. 1 school this year, American Indian Public Charter in Oakland, Calif., has an index score of 23.571.
This is the lowest Eastside has been ranked in the last seven years. It received its highest ranking in 2007 at No. 16, though it had a lower index number that year.
Charbonnet said that the school ranking has likely gone down because there are more students who are graduating, which would lower the number the Washington Post uses to determine its score.
He said policies that were implemented within the last four years, such as a tutoring and mentoring program, are what contributes to the school having a higher graduation rate.
According to the Washington Post, the graduation rate for Eastside High School is at 85 percent, a 1-percent jump from last year.
The top three schools on the list all have a 100-percent four-year graduation rate.
Charbonnet also said that Eastside has the highest graduation rate in Alachua County and the highest rate of at-risk students who graduate.
Programs like the tutoring and mentoring program are available for students on all levels, he said.
“We really thrive on this recognition because we do work very hard to challenge all of our students to take the most rigorous courses available,” he said.
The school holds about 1,300 students and is one of six public high schools in the Gainesville area. It has AP, IB and magnet students. According to its website, there are 117 students in the class of 2013 who are trying to graduate with an IB diploma, and 19 of them have a 4.0 GPA.
According to the Florida Department of Education, the school has a dropout rate of about 1 percent for the 2011-12 school year.
Sarah Samuels contributed reporting.