According to the new US News & World Report Best High Schools rankings, Wellesley High School this year is ranked #26 out of over 300 public high schools in the state of Massachusetts, up two slots from 2020. In 2019, WHS took the #19 spot.
The 1,500+ grades 9 – 12 school has a graduation rate of 99%.
The top-ranked high school in the state this year was once again Boston Latin School, which came in #36 in the national rankings.
How some nearby high schools fared:
- Dover-Sherborn, #8
- Weston, #9
- Hopkinton, #10
- Medfield, #14
- Needham, #16
- Wayland, #18
- Newton South, #34
- Newton North, #37
- Natick, #66
- Framingham, #122
- Keefe Tech (in Framingham), #302
Wellesley ranked #695 nationally this year, up from #825 in 2020. US News & World Report sorts schools based on their performance on state-required tests, graduation rates, and how well schools prepare students for college.
Three Massachusetts school this year cracked the national top-100 list—Boston Latin School (#36); Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (#40); and Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough (#93).
As for the #1 school in the country in 2021? Same as last year—Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia.
Read about US News & World Report’s methedologies.
- student-to-teacher ratio: (13:1)
- math proficiency: 89% (down from 97% last year)
- reading proficiency: 85% (Wellesley has been at either 100% or 99% in previous years)
- percentage that participate in AP exams: 70% (up from 58% last year)
- graduation rate: (99%)
As always, there are true believers in US News and World Report’s ranking system, while others slam the company’s methodology. Before we even knew the rankings were made public, readers started sending in comments. Some expressed disappointment in Wellesley’s drop from the heady days of 2014, when WHS was ranked at #4 in the state. Some credited/blamed the report for everything from impacting real estate values to having an effect on school enrollment numbers.
One Swellesley reader called US News & World Report’s methodology deeply flawed. “The difference between an “A” and an “F” quality school in the USNWR rubric is almost entirely dependent on a school’s journey along the narrow track prescribed by The College Board, which owns the AP test ecosystem. Much of the WHS curriculum is better (not worse) for its lack of slavish adhesion to this one kind of quality, one kind of test, one kind of curriculum,” he said.
Supt. David Lussier in an email offered the following perspective: “I believe it’s important to understand how any ranking system is structured before deciding what value to place on its results. In this case, for example, the U.S. News & World Report places a heavy emphasis on the number of Advanced Placement exams that students take. And while WHS offers an AP program in multiple areas, we have made the deliberate choice to put a high level of rigor into a broader array of courses that we believe are equally effective in preparing students for college and careers.
“I think it’s also important to note what’s not measured in these rankings. Wellesley consistently has the highest (or near the highest) participation in athletics of any high school in the state. Our performing arts and visual arts programs are absolutely incredible and regularly receive top honors. These are essential experiences for students that are as important as our academic offerings and yet have no bearing on these rankings.
“I wish there were a better ranking system that was more calibrated to the things we value in a well-rounded, rigorous high school experience. In the absence of that system, we feel affirmed in our approach by the feedback we regularly receive from our graduates, who consistently tell us how prepared they have felt for college and how much they valued their time at WHS.”
WHS Principal Jamie Chisum added “…there are so many classes at WHS that are not valued by these rankings that are valued by our students and families. We offer a wide variety of programs because we want every student to be able to find at least one corner of the building that feels like home to them. For some of our kids that’s a cadre of classes that includes honors and AP’s and we’re proud of those classes and how well our students who choose them do in those classes. For others it could be song writing, TV/Video, child lab, a special education program, Evolutions, or woodworking. I’ve always worried that if we chase rankings, we could lose track of what our amazing kids in front of us actually need. Our rankings may improve, but if they do it will be a byproduct of our trying to best serve the overall educational needs of our kids and families.”