National Mag Ranks SMHS a Top Idaho School


A national magazine has ranked St. Maries High School among the top schools in Idaho.

Additionally the school was ranked high amongst other high schools across the country.

St. Maries was featured in an article in US News and World Report as one of the best high schools in the nation. St. Maries ranked the 9th best high school in the state and placed at 1,572nd in the country.

Principal John Cordell is proud of St. Maries High School for being ranked the ninth best high school in the state by U.S. News. The school is featured in the latest issue of the magazine.

Principal John Cordell is proud of St. Maries High School for being ranked the ninth best high school in the state by U.S. News. The school is featured in the latest issue of the magazine.

The magazine rankings include data on more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. Ten Idaho schools were awarded silver medals and 45 received bronze medals. The state’s one gold medal school is Coeur D’Alene Charter Academy.

Representatives from the company informed Principal John Cordell that St. Maries was in the running for a silver medal at the close of the 2013-2014 school year.

“They called to verify some information and had us send them some additional data,” he said. “We found out exactly where we ranked when they published the article last week.”

To be eligible for a state ranking, a school must be awarded a national gold or silver medal. St. Maries received silver. Rankings are configured through a number of statistics including test scores, student participation in advanced placement and dual enrollment classes and socio-economic status.

“It’s really a feather in the cap for the whole community, because it isn’t just these students, but teachers, staff and community members and businesses that support our programs that have made our students successful,” Mr. Cordell said.

About 31 percent of the 312 students enrolled at the school are taking advanced placement classes.

“We’ve offered advanced placement classes for quite some time but over the years the percentage of students taking those and dual enrollment classes has increased,” Mr. Cordell said. “Our average is almost double that of the state’s.”

Mr. Cordell attributes the high participation to his teachers and staff who encourage students to enroll in the classes.

The local high school offers several programs such as health occupations courses, and classes on professional and technical skills. These programs and courses would not be an option for local students without the unique partnerships the school has with local businesses and area colleges, Mr. Cordell said.

“Students not only get traditional education in the classroom but get the chance to apply what they’re learning in the field,” he said. “Not a lot of schools are tied into their communities like we are.”

The school has continued to build upon their programs for about a decade and is able to expand opportunities for students each year.

“We are fortunate enough that we are the only high school in our little community and we have a community that is very supportive of our schools,” Mr. Cordell said.

Students at the St. Maries school also actively participate and do well in testing. Almost 79 percent of the student body that was eligible voluntarily took the ACT last year. The state average is less than 10 percent.

“We always have our students take the ACT because they do better on it,” Mr. Cordell said.

The judges also consider the obstacles that students have to overcome to achieve the standards that they have met. About 51 percent of the student body is considered to be economically disadvantaged.

“They use the number of students on free and reduced lunch to help gauge the challenges students at the school have had to overcome,” Mr. Cordell said. “They take that into account also when they come up with the rankings.”

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