Sterling High School is in the state’s top 20 for best high school sports, and in the top 15 percent of high schools in the country, according to Niche’s latest ranking of education centers across the nation.
Sterling commands the 18th spot of 395 Illinois high schools for the best sports program, and is 150th out of 9,765 in the U.S., according to Niche’s analysis. Participation rates, the number of sports offered, and expenses per student, are some of the criteria used in the rankings.
The company behind the power rankings mines data from the U.S. Department of Education, in addition to more than 25 criteria, including state proficiency levels, advanced placement enrollment, graduation rates, and parent/student surveys on its website, among other things. Each is assigned a weight, scored, and then ranked and graded.
“We’re confident these are the most comprehensive K-12 school and district rankings to date,” its website reads. “We go through a series of steps ... to ensure that our rankings are statistically sound and offer the most amount of guidance to those looking to make a school choice.”
There are 678 public high schools in the state, but not all are ranked. A key ingredient in Niche’s formula is sufficient data, and if more than 50 percent is missing, the school is not graded.
When compared to similar rankings by Newsweek, the Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report, Niche appears to have a broader view of college readiness, academics, teachers – even food grades.
BY THE NUMBERS
Sterling High School (Grade: B)
SHS is top-ranked in three of 12 categories (sports, extracurriculars, student culture/diversity), and scores above average in nine. About a third of students are minorities, of which 29 percent are Hispanic, and 3 percent African-American.
Slightly more girls (37.3 percent) participate in sports than boys (36.4 percent). More than a quarter of eligible students take advanced placement classes (26.2 percent), and 23.2 percent pass.
Twenty-one percent of teachers missed 10 or more days for sick or personal leave. About 9 percent of students received an out-of-school suspension at least once; an in-school rate was not listed.
Its overall state rank is 187, with an 81-percent graduation rate (the national rate is 82.2 percent). Math proficiency (60 percent) is higher than the state average (57.8 percent), while reading proficiency (54 percent) is lower than the state (58.6 percent).
Academically, it ranks 218 of 482, which is calculated using state assessments, advanced placement matriculation and pass rates, SAT/ACT composites, graduation rate, and student-teacher ratio. Parent/student self-reporting on academics carries a 10-percent weight.
Rock Falls High School (Grade: C)
Its overall state rank is 477, with an 82-percent graduation rate. Math proficiency (52 percent) is lower than the state (57.8 percent). Reading proficiency (57 percent) is lower than the state (58.6 percent).
About 20 percent of students are minorities, of which 17 percent are Hispanic, and 1 percent African-American.
Of 404 high schools evaluated on food, 98 percent scored better than Rock Falls, which placed 397. Quality and variety was sourced from parent/student opinions, which are generated by self-reporting Niche visitors, and crunching expenses per student.
Eighty percent of the food grade is produced from the self-reporting, but just three comments and 11 survey responses are listed.
It ranks 413 of 420 for facilities, based on parent/student self-reports, expenses per student, student-counselor ratio, food grade, and the student-teacher ratio. School data is provided by the federal National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education.
Fourteen percent of teachers missed 10 or more days for sick or personal leave. About 7 percent of eligible students take advanced placement classes, and 63.8 percent pass.
The in-school suspension rate is 22.97 percent, and the out-of-school suspension rate is 10.31 percent.
Academically, it ranks 295 of 482.
Dixon High School (Grade: C-minus)
Its overall state rank is 545, with an 80-percent graduation rate. Math proficiency (47 percent) is lower than the state (57.8 percent). Reading proficiency (62 percent) is higher than the state (58.6 percent).
Academically, it ranks 335 of 482 evaluated schools, and facilities rank 412 of 420, according to the analysis.
About 1 in 10 students take advanced placement classes, and more than 51 percent pass. About 14 percent of teachers missed 10 or more days for sick or personal leave.
White students represent 81 percent of the student body, with 7 percent multiracial, 6 percent Hispanic, 3 percent African-American, and 1 percent Asian.
Newman Central Catholic High School (Grade: C-plus)
Newman ranked 41 of 70 Catholic high schools that were evaluated on the “Best Catholic High Schools” list, and 88 of 138 on the “Best Private High Schools” list.
The Illinois State Board of Education accounts for some data collection, but reporting is voluntary, and not all schools are ranked. No additional information is available, aside from a C-plus grade, which is produced from Niche grades and self-reporting.