Two of Cape Ann’s high schools are springing into the new school year with an early achievement.
Rockport High and Manchester Essex Regional High School have both been ranked in a list of the top 50 Boston area high schools, while Gloucester missed the cut.
Boston Magazine recruited statistician George Recck to rank Boston area schools within the I-495 boundary on 15 categories — including state and national test score results at the 10th-grade level, student-teacher ratios and number of clubs and sports teams offered to students. Recck is the director of the Math Resources Center at Babson College.
In the magazine’s last ranking of high schools in 2010, Rockport captured 72nd and Manchester Essex grabbed 13th place.
This year’s ranking of high schools placed Rockport High School, the smallest school to secure a spot in the top 50, at No. 36.
Principal Philip Conrad credits the school’s teachers for the big jump.
“I try not to be a bragger, but I’ve got to say it put a big smile on my face,” Conrad said.
Rockport High School’s scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System – or MCAS — tests improved by 10 points in both the English and math categories and 15 points in Science testing, reaching average scores of 99 in English, 90 in math and 85 in science, according to data. The school’s average reading scores on the national Scholastic Aptitude Tests — or SATs — increased by 31 points from 2010 to 2012, to an average score of 539, according to data. The average math score jumped 29 points to 530.
Conrad said improvements in test scores over the years can be credited, in part, to the school’s switch to a more student based curriculum, called understanding by design, in which teachers base curriculum on the students’ levels of understanding.
“I feel great about our accomplishment,” Conrad said. “It made us feel like what we were doing is the right thing.”
Manchester Essex Regional High School, though dropping in rank from 13th to 25th, showed little change in most aspects. SAT scores at the school improved, though the district’s MCAS scores decreased.
The school’s SAT scores climbed in all categories by about 30 points. In reading, for example, Manchester Essex captured average scores of 574 points, 34 points higher than the score two years prior, according to data.
But MCAS scores sagged at the school, with English scores decreasing by about 9 points on average to 90, and science scores dropping about 7 points to 85, according to data. Math scores stayed at 87 points over the two years, according to data.
Gloucester, falling short of a spot in the top 50 high schools, went unranked. But data on MCAS and SAT scores show the school’s marks well below other Cape Ann high schools.
Gloucester’s percentage of students who enter college upon graduation — at 73 percent — is almost 20 percentage points below Manchester Essex Regional High and Rockport High, both of which sent over 90 percent of students to colleges and universities.
On science MCAS tests, Gloucester’s students scored an average of 65 points, whereas students at the other two schools averaged 85 points each. And in SAT math tests, Gloucester students averaged a score of 494 points, compared to Rockport’s 530 point average and a 580 point average for Manchester Essex Regional High School.
But Gloucester matched the other two in terms of student-to-teacher ratio, all figuring in at about 12.5 students per teacher. Gloucester High also matched spending per student with the ranking Cape Ann high schools, all of which spent about $13,000 per student.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.