Saturday, May 31, 2008

Framingham Makes Newsweek List of Top U.S. Public High Schools

Now Newsweek's readers know what many people in the Ham have long believed: Framingham High School offers a high quality education to its students. In the shadow of the more affluent towns around it, Framingham's reputation sometimes suffers, unfairly, because of the diversity of its residents. But as Newsweek notes in its recent article Framingham High is 1,038 on its 2008 list of the top 1,300 public high schools in the U.S., ahead of its neighbors Holliston (1,293) and Ashland (1,050) and even the pricy town of Winchester (1,368).

Massachusetts as a whole appears to offer some of the best high schools in the country, with 34 schools from the Bay State making the Newsweek list. Interestingly, some of our other neighbors, including Natick, whose schools are sometimes seen as being better than Framingham's, did not even make the list. Most of the schools on the list are the usual suspects--the very affluent and exclusive towns that are renowned for their schools, such as Weston, Wellesley, and Newton, where the price of entry--if you want to own a home in the town--is exceeding high, and beyond the reach of many in the middle class.

That Framingham is in such company is good news for the vast majority of people who do not have incomes in the demographic top 5-10% for the country. The ideal of the American public school system has been that everyone's children should have access to a free, high quality education, an ideal that sadly has become less common in the past few decades. So once again, Framingham, the frequent underdog of MetroWest, has becoming a shining example of a town that can offer both a reasonable cost of living and high quality education. More proof of the veracity of the Boston Magazine article where Framingham is listed as being one of the metropolitan area's biggest bangs for the buck.

Newsweek's formula for determining the top schools admittedly is limited -- a ratio of the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. This calculation is used to create a list of what Newsweek says is the top 5% of public high schools in the country. While some may rightly argue that there are many other measures of excellence, the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes and tests is often seen as a good indicator of future success in college. In a nutshell, taking the academically rigorous AP classes is important preparation for the degree of difficulty found in college courses.

Framingham High has long had a policy of offering numerous Advanced Placement classes, and allowing a wide variety of students to take them, unlike some schools that limit access to only the top echelon of students.

Principal Michael Welch, and all of the excellent teachers at Framingham High, take a well-deserved bow!