The January 2012 Atlanta magazine includes the first of its kind high school rankings. These are public school ratings only. What the magazine terms as “independent” schools do not distribute performance data. The list details nine numerical categories in what appears to be its most objective attempt to date. In previous years, Atlanta magazine provided a more subjective Top list for several subject area strengths, such as math/science, fine arts et al, allowing private schools to be included.
The Atlanta Metro's lifestyle oriented periodical states, “SATs are helpful…but (can) mean a school has little socioeconomic diversity.” The editors write confidently that their nine categories, “present a compelling portrait of how well public schools prepare their graduates.”
Five schools from DeKalb are in the Metro Top 50. In order of composite rank—DeKalb School of the Arts (#3), Lakeside (#16), Chamblee (#18), Dunwoody (#23) and Druid Hills (#42). Compare that to ten (10) each from Gwinnett; Fulton and Cobb. Cobb and Fulton had eight of the top 10 in the composite (overall) list.
In the most striking example of the breadth of the “portrait”, the five DeKalb county schools on the list make up five of the top seven in the “% college prep”
category, however they range from #3 (DeKalb School of the Arts) to #42 (Druid
Hills) in overall rank. Schools on the magazine ranked list generally have over 90 percent of graduates with collge preparatory rather than vocational diplomas. None in DeKalb's top 5 were under 97%.
Like any data, you have to take it at face value and move along. For instance, SAT scores can be skewed by a school’s numbers taking the test; although determinant, neither school size or % of economically disadvantaged students can be objectively considered and no credit is given for progress toward closing the so-called “achievement gap”. It is also not clear how superior technology/vocational programs can be distinguished.
Atlanta Magazine 10-County Metro Public High School Rankings
Lakeside Rank Druid Hills Rank
Overall 16 42
SAT 11 35
Grad Rate 28 26
#AP Taken 6 N/A--IB
% AP score 3+ 46 40
% Learning Support* 34 47
% HOPE Eligible 8 19
% College Prep 2 7
* Learning Support defined as % of students entering Ga colleges requiring learning support
--5 schools in Top 25 overall (3 in Atlanta Mag Top 15)
--Top County for % College Preparatory Diploma--5 out of Top 7 schools
--Highest need for "Learning Support" among Top 5 Counties