Public schools in Eastern Washington are performing well behind their peers on the West Side, according to comprehensive national rankings released recently by U.S. News and World Report.
The rankings, which for the first time include elementary and middle schools, reflect the most recent test results by district, mostly from the 2018-19 school year.
For each state, schools were assessed on their shares of students who were proficient or above proficient in their mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments.
The rankings also take into account the socioeconomic demographics of each school — in other words, highly ranked schools have succeeded in educating all of their students.
Ranks were assigned in descending order of overall scores. Schools placing in the top 30% (scores of at least 70) were flagged as high-achieving. Schools below the 25th percentile have their scores concealed.
By that measure, public schools in the Puget Sound area are far ahead of those in Eastern Washington.
For example, out of 1,086 public elementary schools in the state, only five area schools make the top 100.
Of the 34 elementaries in the Spokane Public Schools district, 22 rank in the bottom half of all schools in the state, and 12 are in the bottom 25%.
Within the district, all of the higher-achieving schools are located on the South Hill. At the top of the list is Wilson Elementary, which ranks 14th in the state and tops among all schools east of the Cascades.
Close behind is Hutton at No. 22. Moran Prarie (91st) also made the top 100, as did Mead’s Prairie View (83rd) and Garfield Elementary in Whitman County (94th).
Four other Spokane elementaries — all on the South Hill — finished in the top 200. They included Hamblen (103rd), Franklin (136th), Mullan Road (159th) and Jefferson (169th).
The top-performing elementaries in the Central Valley School District were McDonald (194th ) and Sunrise (256th).
The picture is slightly better at the middle school level.
North Central High School ranks 13th in the middle school list because of its acclaimed Institute of Science and Technology program for seventh- and eighth-graders, while Sacajawea ranked 26th overall.
Junior high schools in Davenport, Pullman, Colville, Dayton and Asotin also made the top 100 out of 747 schools statewide.
Among the state’s 689 public high schools ranked by U.S. News, six of the top 100 are in Eastern Washington: Davenport (36th), North Central (40th), Pullman (42nd), Mt. Spokane (59th), Mead (62nd) and Ferris (64th).
Lewis and Clark, which typically makes the state’s top 25 in the U.S. News rankings, was not included on any lists this year.
To compile the rankings, U.S. News summed each school’s standardized scores. From these, a single zero to 100 overall score was computed for each school, depicting how well each school ranked within their state on a percentile basis.
For example, a school with a score of 55 performed in the 55th percentile among all schools in its ranking, meaning 45% of the schools performed better and 55% of the schools didn’t perform as well as that school.
Nationally, 47,325 elementary schools and 23,255 middle schools were ranked. When combined with the 17,857 public high schools U.S. News ranked earlier in 2021, U.S. News has assigned 88,437 state ranks across its elementary, middle and high schools rankings to 79,941 unique public schools.
The state assessment data used in the ranking indicators was sourced from the 2018-19 school year’s achievement results for state assessments in mathematics and reading from the U.S. Department of Education’s EdFacts initiative.
These include the numbers of test-takers for each subject by grade, the proportions of test-takers proficient in each subject area and the economic and ethnic profiles of test-takers.