Belmontonian – By Franklin Tucker
It something special when you’re in the top 100th of 1 percent.
And Belmont High School has some serious credentials when it comes to producing smart kids. For the umpteenth time, Belmont High was named a gold medal school by US News & World Report in its annual report of the best of the 21,000 public high schools in the United States. Only 2.5 percent of schools nationwide receives the gold standard.
Belmont High was ranked 213th in the country and 8th in Massachusetts. The school has been slipping a few places each year; it reached its zenith in 2009 when Belmont was the 100th best high school. In 2014, the rank was 151st and last year, 200th.
But according to an analysis of the report, it’s not that Belmont is slipping educationally but rather it is the surge of specialized charter schools that emphasize high-level study and test taking with a select base of pupils that are jumping passed the local high school.
In the analysis of the US and state, Belmont is grouped with test schools such as Boston Latin and charter school. Regarding “open enrollment” high schools – in which all students in the district attend – Belmont ranks third behind Medfield Senior High and Hopkinton High and just in front of Lexington High (which Belmont trailed last year) and Dover-Sherborn Regional High.
According to the ranking, a little more than seven out of ten students takes at on average four Advanced Placement tests with nearly all of them passing at least one AP test. Nearly all the pupils at the High School have tested proficient or advanced in English and math. The school does lag behind nearly 80 percent of Massachusetts high schools in terms of student/teacher ratio at 17 to 1.
For the second year running, Belmont stands out in a new category of the analysis. In STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) education, Belmont repeated its 103rd US ranking with students, outpacing some of the same test and charter schools ranked higher than the Concord Avenue school.