SHERIDAN — Just making the cut off, Big Horn High School has been named by Newsweek as one of the best schools in the country. In a list of 500, the school grabbed the last rank, but is the only Wyoming high school to be named.
“It’s a great honor, but we always have work to do,” said Marty Kobza, Sheridan County School District 1’s superintendent.
First analyzing schools based on their standardized state-level math, reading and language arts assessments, Newsweek then focused on six categories of a College Readiness Index: SAT/ACT composite, graduation rate, Advanced Placement/IB/dual enrollment composite, college enrollment rate, counselor-to-student ratio and student retention. All of this, including a poverty rate, factored into a school’s college readiness.
With 96.6 percent of students college bound and 100 percent graduating, BHHS was only brought down by relatively low dual enrollment — 16.2 percent — a lower student retention rate at 74.4 percent and a somewhat high poverty ranking with 20 percent of its students considered impoverished.
This provides a snapshot for SCSD1 to review, but Kobza said he was not surprised by any of the stats. Overall he is proud of the high school’s standing on the list but feels that the work for student success starts early.
“A lot of this has to do with the foundation that’s built starting in kindergarten,” he said, adding that BHHS’s ranking on the list is a byproduct of teacher, parent and community support and an effort to “focus as much as we can on [our students’] needs.”
Creating a strong science, technology, engineering and math foundation, the school provides opportunities for dual and concurrent enrollment to better prepare its students for college and careers. With 76.2 percent of students considered college ready, SCSD1 will keep this number in mind while reviewing local assessments and updating curriculum.
Although Kobza is aware that not all BHHS students will go to college — some may chose trade schools or enter the workforce — he wants all students to be prepared upon graduation.
Ultimately Newsweek’s report looks at the “big picture” of where BHHS stands. SCSD1 will take a more in-depth approach when reviewing state scores and standing, Kobza said.