Four public high schools in Frederick County made the 2018 U.S. News and World Report ranking of America’s best. Urbana High achieved the report’s highest gold medal ranking. Middletown, Oakdale and Walkersville High each achieved silver medal rankings.
Urbana High is ranked 10th within Maryland, according to U.S. News and World Report, which cited students’ participation in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses as one of the criteria for its ranking. Middletown ranked 22nd statewide, Oakdale 23rd and Walkersville 26th.
The rankings included data on more than 20,500 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The top 500 earned gold medals, while 2,211 received silver. Other public high schools in the county were listed as unranked.
U.S. News used a four-step methodology to evaluate high schools. The first focused on student performance on state-mandated math and reading tests during 2015-2016. Schools had to perform better than statistically expected given their student poverty levels to make it to the next step. The second step factored in performance of each school’s historically underserved students—those of black, Hispanic and low-income backgrounds—compared with the state average. To achieve the third step a school needed to boast a rounded graduation rate of at least 80 percent. The final step evaluated preparation for college based on student participation and performance on AP and IB exams.
Only gold medal schools were eligible for STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—rankings, calculated on student participation and performance on AP math and science exams. Urbana High was ranked 224th nationwide among STEM high schools.