Cassville High School has once again been recognized as one of the nation's top high schools by the U.S. News and World Report. Cassville was the only Barry County school to receive the magazine's bronze medal listing this year.
"It is always a great honor when a high school or school district gets recognized nationally," said Chris Redmon, Cassville High School principal. "I am more proud that we met the qualifications to earn this type of honor. We have a great school and a great staff, and this is a result of what we show up and do everyday."
U.S. News and World Report compiles the list of top high schools by comparing each school's test scores to the state average scores. The academic performance of at-risk populations, such as minority students and students who receive free and reduced lunches, is also considered.
"Our staff does a great job of being result oriented while ensuring students get the skills they need to be college and career ready," said Redmon. "This honor validates what we are doing on a daily basis. It is a pat on the back for our teachers. We try to tell them they are doing a great job, but this type of honor can be even more encouraging."
Honors and special recognitions often give teachers motivation for continued improvement, said Redmon.
"Not only do they want to get there, but they want to stay there," said Redmon. "Our teachers will be facing some challenges next year when we receive the requirements for MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Program) 5, but we feel that Missouri will be in much better shape than some other states because our curriculum has been more rigorous and gotten tougher and tougher each year. MSIP 5 could level the playing field for Missouri students."
Over the last two years, Cassville High School has implemented a new system called essential learning outcomes, which is designed to allow teachers to more efficiently evaluate student progress.
During the 2010-11 school year, teachers were asked to identify essential learning outcomes in their curriculums. This year, teachers began formulating final exams using the essential learning outcomes.
Several teachers have taken the project one step further by labeling test questions that appear on final exams according to the essential learning outcomes. This step allows teachers to quickly create a spreadsheet that indicates whether students have met the essential learning outcomes.
"Next year, we would like to do this with every unit in order to make it more timely," said Redmon. "Our goal was to have this system in place within three years, and I think we will. Then, we can build on it each year."
The essential learning outcomes are designed to help students improve Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and ACT scores. This improvement will be combined with a continued focus on attendance and graduation rates, said Redmon.
"Our staff members take pride in educating every kid equally regardless of their background," said Redmon. "There is no substitute for a good education, and we focus on student learning. All of the academic success in the world doesn't matter if kids are not college and career ready.
"Our teachers do one heck of a job of preparing students," said Redmon. "We will continue to do that day in and day out. We are not looking for recognition. We are just doing whatever we can do for the kids who come to Cassville High School."
This is the fifth year that U.S. News and World Report has published a list of top high schools. Cassville High School has earned a bronze listing three out of the five years.
The publication graded nearly 22,000 public high schools across the country. The top 500 schools in the nation, including Metro Academic and Classical High School in St. Louis, Clayton High School, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City and Central High School in Springfield, were awarded gold medals.
An additional 1,508 schools received silver medals and 2,869 were given bronze medals. This number represents the top 23 percent of the nation's public high schools.
In addition to Cassville High School, the following southwest Missouri schools received bronze medal listings this year: Aurora High School; Billings High School; Hurley High School; McDonald County High School; Mt. Vernon High School; Pierce City High School; Sarcoxie High School; and Verona High School. Webb City High School received a silver medal listing.
U.S. News and World Report awarded four gold, 13 silver and 125 bonze medals in Missouri.
For more information on the report, visit www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schoo....