NT ranks 15th in Illinois in U.S News HS Report

Selective schools that allow AP classes for frosh/soph grab top spots


New Trier

New Trier prioritizes freshman and sophmore readiness over Advanced Placement classes

In the 2019 U.S. News Best High Schools report released at the end of April, New Trier ranked 15th in Illinois and 307th nationally of the 17,245 public schools reviewed across the nation.

New Trier placed below some of its neighboring schools, such as Stevenson High School (No. 6) and Glenbrook North (No. 16), but above Glenbrook South (No. 24) and Evanston Township High School (No. 27) in the state rankings.

According to the US News website, “The 2019 Best High Schools rankings take a holistic approach to evaluating schools, looking at six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates.”

Despite the US News’ claim that the report evaluates schools in a comprehensive manner, Winnetka Campus Principal Denise Dubravec believes the rankings don’t necessarily take into account the bigger picture. For that reason, Dubravec said that parents and students should disregard this report and similar ones, or at the very least take them with a grain of salt.

“They give a flat, one-dimensional view of any one school. These rankings can be very misleading,” said Dubravec.

For example, Dubravec said one significant factor in determining the rankings is evaluating the number of students that participate and perform well in the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) classes. However, because New Trier limits its AP classes to junior and senior students, she said this puts the school at a disadvantage in the rankings.

“We believe AP classes are not developmentally appropriate for freshmen and sophomores, and that under these rankings schools that place many kids in AP classes —whether they fail the AP tests or not —will rank above us because the most important measure the school’s percentage of students enrolled in AP classes. In the current ranking, some schools that are struggling to meet state standards are ranked above us, and others have far less success at passing AP tests.”

Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Winnetka Campus, Chimille Dillard, agreed that the rankings aren’t necessarily an accurate representation of the school, but for a different reason.

The top five schools in the Illinois rankings are all selective Chicago Public Schools, which Dillard said that due to their selective enrollment process, cannot necessarily be directly compared to New Trier.

“As a CPS selective enrollment alum, I am aware that students must test and apply to selective enrollment schools. Since they are not traditional ‘neighborhood’ schools (schools that allow all students that live in their neighborhood), only the top of the top students are admitted,” said Dillard.

According to Dubravec, the rankings also fail to consider qualitative data, meaning that the rankings don’t take into account some of the defining aspects of New Trier.

Dubravec said that New Trier is exceptional due to its extensive extra-curricular opportunities, supportive and engaged parent community, and strong relationships between students and staff that make the environment of the school—despite its large number of students—seem small and personal.

Because the U.S. News rankings rely on quantitative data, none of these unique and important qualities can be considered.
Dubravec said that New Trier prioritizes providing the best possible education for its students above all else, and that the methods to achieve this goal might not always line up with what the reports or lists are looking for.

“We have a proven track record of successfully preparing students for rigorous college coursework, and our students attend college at a rate of 98 percent. Our post-graduate surveys show that our students overwhelmingly feel well-prepared for college courses, and college admissions officers across the country recognize New Trier as an exemplary high school.”

For this reason, Dubravec believes that the school should not, and will not, change its methodology in order to try to get the #1 ranking.

“We will not change our philosophy of individualized student curricular choices simply to get a higher rating on some list produced by a magazine or newspaper,” said Dubravec.