Making the grade

Not even the looming budget season could dampen the spirits at Lampeter-Strasburg School District this week.

That’s because their high school made the list of U.S. News & World Report’s top Pennsylvania schools.

The school took the 33rd spot in the state — an improvement over its 44th ranking last year — and is a silver-medal winner on the magazine’s annual list. It is ranked the 1,231st best high school in the country.

The U.S. News website says schools were evaluated on overall student performance on state-mandated tests as well as how effectively they educated minority and poor students. It then used AP and exit exams to see how well schools prepared students for college-level courses.

Kevin Peart, superintendent of the Lampeter-Strasburg School District, said that the high ranking awarded to the high school is confirmation of the hard work the students and faculty are putting in to rise above expectations.

“I know they put long hours into preparing and studying for these exams. I think the entire building is proud of the effort and to get this recognition is just a bonus,” he said.

With 1,047 students and 66 full-time teachers, Lampeter-Strasburg was lauded for a 16-to-1 student/teacher ratio, above the state average, and a higher-than-average Advanced Placement class participation rate of 35 percent.

Test scores in two subject areas also peaked above the state average, with a proficient percentage of 81 in math and 86 in reading.

The magazine said it evaluated more than 31,000 public, magnet and charter schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In the national ranking, 500 high schools earned gold medals, 1,519 took home silver and 2,688 were awarded bronze.

And Lampeter-Strasburg wasn’t the only local high school earning recognition — Conestoga Valley High School and Ephrata High School got bronze medals.

Ephrata has a 17-to-1 teacher/student ratio and a college readiness score of 15.3 out of 100. Test scores show 76 percent of students are proficient in math and 72 percent are proficient in reading.

“It’s an indicator that we’re doing well by our students. It’s nice to get multiple sources showing that we are doing a good job helping our students reach expectations,” Superintendent Brian Troop said. 

Conestoga Valley has the same teacher/student ratio but the college readiness score is 11.1. Test scores show 75 percent of students are proficient in math and 83 are proficient in reading.

“We’ve really been focusing on making sure our students are progressing and I think that’s being reflected, in part, with this honor,” Superintendent Gerald Huesken said.

Last year, Manheim Township made it into the top 50 in Pennsylvania with a rank at 47 on the list but failed to medal at all this year.

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Karen Shuey is a Lancaster Newspapers staff writer who covers state and federal government and politics. She can be reached at kshuey@lnpnews.com or (717) 291-8716. You can also follow @Karen_Shuey on Twitter.