August 20, 2011

Fremont to Palo Alto, Cupertino: We Rulez, You Droolz!

imageIt’s back to school time, and that means it’s time for another completely arbitrary ranking of our educational institutions!  US News and World Report set loose on our high schools, and have come up with the latest, greatest, most up-to-date rankings… using data from two years ago! (You’re probably valuing your house based on old prices too!) 

We also have the Newsweek numbers, which carry much less weight for two reasons: Newsweek is now just a subsidiary of The Daily Beast, and they don’t have the same concern as US News that a school needs to do well by all its students.  The Newsweek stats are skewed beyond belief toward college readiness, and only college readiness.  So let’s ignore them for now.

The top 100 schools that survived US News’ “three part” testing were given the “Gold Medal” and ranked 1 through 100 based on a “College Readiness Index,” showing how many of their students took AP or IB exams.  A few of these top schools actually scored a perfect 100, which meant every single student took at least one college-level exam.  That Quality Adjusted number is the exams actually passed, as opposed to taken.

imageTwo states couldn’t survive this rigorous data-parsing at all, so all high schools in Nebraska and Oklahoma were thrown into the trash-heap of non-Specialness!  The other 48 states plus the District of Columbia had all their high schools thrown into the Mixmaster of Mystery.  But you don’t care which school had the highest score unless you could consider sending your kids there while holding down your high-paying job at the Googleplex!  So here are the Bay Area schools that got the Gold, and the third-highest school may be a surprise.

Schools within 20 miles of Google are conveniently marked in Bay Area Blue.

Bay Area High Schools on US News & World Reports Gold Medal List

Rank School Name Quality Adjusted exams per test-taker College Readiness Index (CRI) Rank in 2009
7 Pacific Collegiate School
Santa Cruz
4.5 100 3
28 Lowell High School
San Francisco
4.8 89.6 39
36 Mission San Jose HS
Fremont
3.4 85.0 60
67 Henry M. Gunn HS
Palo Alto
4.9 71.5 74
70 Monta Vista HS
Cupertino
3.5 70.6 73
73 Piedmont HS
Piedmont
3.0 70.2 64
83 Palo Alto HS
Palo Alto
3.2 67.0 Silver (54.0)
86 Campolindo HS
Moraga
3.1 66.4 Silver (51.8)
89 Miramonte HS
Orinda
3.2 65.4 Silver (58.9)
93 Saratoga HS
Saratoga
3.7 64.4 80
98 Lynbrook HS
San Jose
3.1 63.3 Silver (58.7)

imageUnfortunately, the Silver and Bronze medal schools aren’t conveniently (I mean meaninglessly) ranked.  But here are the Bay Area also-rans, because I’m sure you’re looking for your kids’ or your own school and wondering if you made this “grade” for the bragging rights.  Silver Medal schools met the same criteria as Gold, they just didn’t score as well on the CRI and thus missed the Top 100.  The cut-off for Silver is a CRI of 20.0.

Bay Area Schools Ranked Silver Medal
(no rankings given, but sorted by CRI)

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 Silver Results
Acalanes HS
Lafayette
58.4 1.31 54.0
Redwood HS
Larkspur
58.1 1.22 59.5
Tamalpais HS
Mill Valley
57.0 1.02 49.1
Mountain View HS
Mountain View
54.4 1.08 52.4
Homestead HS
Cupertino
47.9 1.03 39.0
Amador Valley
Pleasanton
45.1 1.05 43.1
San Ramon Valley HS
Danville
43.8 1.04 39.4
Foothill HS
Pleasanton
43.2 1.14 42.6
George Washington HS
San Francisco
37.9 1.05 30.8
Monte Vista HS
Danville
35.4 1.21 27.7
Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, San Francisco 30.8 1.09 27.5
Lionel Wilson College Prep (Charter), Oakland 30.1 1.72
California HS
San Ramon
26.5 1.04 28.7

imageAnd I’m sure you noticed who’s missing, too.  Where’s Los Altos High?  Where’s Los Gatos?  Where’s Cupertino?  Go away Fremont, nobody expected you to show up. 

Bronze Medal schools did well on state tests (parts 1 and 2 of their filtering) but not college-readiness (taking and passing AP or IB exams). .

Bay Area Schools Ranked Bronze Medal (no rankings given)

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 Bronze?
Alameda Community Learning Center, Alameda N/A 1.24 Yes
Alameda Science & Technology Institute, Alameda N/A 1.53 No
Geyserville Educational Park HS
Geyserville
N/A 1.1 No
Middle College HS
San Pablo
N/A 1.21 Yes
Roseland Charter
Santa Rosa
N/A 1.06 No
Technology HS
Rohnert Park
N/A 1.15 Yes

Honorable Mention schools are the reverse of the Bronzes: they have the college readiness scores but fell down on the state test results.  There are only two California schools with Honorable Mention. Here is the Bay Area entry:

Bay Area Schools with Honorable Mention

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 HM?
Summit Preparatory Charter High, Redwood City 83.1 0.85 No

imageThis school may seem familiar to you: it’s the Bay Area charter featured in Waiting for Superman.

So getting back to that surprising Fremont showing, here’s one reason why Mission San Jose blew Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Gunn, and Paly out of the water.  Turns out Useless News and World Distort ranked the schools a lot of different ways.  Here’s one of their rankings that MSJ also did well on.

So, home prices in the Fremont Hills should be higher than Palo Alto or Cupertino?  Why or why not?

Oh, yeah, Newsweek’s Top 500 School list, as if anyone cares.  Not one Cupertino school.  Paly isn’t on the list either.  Or Lowell!  The score is made up of the graduation rate (25%), the matriculation to college rate (25%), AP tests per graduate (25%), average SAT scores (10%), average AP/IB test scores (10%), and AP classes offered (5%).  And note that again, AP tests per graduate, not per test taker.  Riiiiiight.  Because we can’t have kids not going to college in our “best” high schools.

The Newsweek Nonsense of Supposed High School Bestness: Bay Area

Rank School City Stu/Tea ratio grad rate AP/IB tests college bound % Average SAT Newsweek score
42 Henry M. Gunn Palo Alto 28 98 4.1 96 1942 1.072
61 Mission San Jose Fremont 27 99 3.5 94 1958 0.949
83 Piedmont Piedmont 12.5 100 2.2 95 1902 0.811
132 Summit Prep Charter Redwood City 26 94 4.7 100 1610 0.63
184 Analy Sebastopol 38 99 1.3 95 1743 0.535
225 Hillsdale San Mateo 27 100 2.2 99 1578 0.482
244 Mills Millbrae 23.6 96 2.1 94 1696 0.451
250 California San Ramon 30 99 0.8 97 1692 0.443
497 George Washington San Francisco 34 95 1.9 91 1441 0.092

imageHey Newsweek, I hear Paly’s lawyers will be calling you real soon, and both Monta Vista and Lynbrook are going to beat you up behind the gym after PE.  With their 16 inch laptops.

No, I can’t walk home with you, I got band practice.


Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:19 am

8 Responses to “Fremont to Palo Alto, Cupertino: We Rulez, You Droolz!”

  1. steve Says:

    but does fremont have a house like this? “Truly one of a kind”

    http://www.redfin.com/CA/Palo-Alto/3905-PAGE-MILL-Rd-94304/home/21509812

  2. waiting_for_the_fall Says:

    In the last picture, green-shirt kid just found out blue-shirt kid’s family rented to get into the good school district.

  3. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    All this emphasis on scores is silly though. It’s not how rigorous the study, it’s *who* you go to school with. I believe Gunn is the top school for producing well-connected arseholes who consider the rest of the population to be scum and due to their money and connections, make it look like a realistic worldview.

  4. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > but does fremont have a house like this? “Truly one of a kind”

    I thought this house had been featured on burbed but I cannot pralay any reference to it. Zestimate is $2.3M. Can you say instant equity?

    03/23/2011 Listing removed $1,875,000
    12/07/2009 Price change $1,875,000
    08/31/2009 Price change $1,998,000
    07/09/2009 Price change $2,198,000
    05/10/2009 Listed for sale $2,398,000

  5. madhaus Says:

    I’m surprised that house has never been featured too. I’ve visited it. I think back then burbed wasn’t taking guest posts or I would have written it up. Made for the Chasing Market Down tag!

    Free decor tip: That ceiling fan in the living room is the same model we used to have. It’s made of metal and fabric and looks like a bicycle crashed into a rack of windsurfer sails. I loved it because it was eclectic, but after 15 years, the white fabric gets dirty. The local lighting store didn’t sell the Casablanca line anymore, so I had to go with something a little less outre this time.

    (Yes, I have been upgrading my house, even though I don’t live in the RBA anymore!)

  6. Divasm Says:

    I don’t care what those magazines say, I went to Homestead and I’m clearly way ahead of most of the country…after all my husband works at Googleplex and I live in the RBA! Living the dream!

    Did any of you see Waiting for Superman? I loved the suspense of seeing if the upper-middle-class white girl could avoid the horrible fate of going to Woodside instead of Summit Prep. Really reduced those East LA and Harlem students’ plights to dust in my eyes…

  7. Real Estater Says:

    This is one of the best Burbed write-ups. Congratulations to Madhaus on the great job.

  8. madhaus Says:

    I am glad you enjoyed it, RE. I suspected it needed the tl;dr tag.


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