ESCANABA - Four area high schools have been recognized as some of the top high schools in the nation.
The high schools of Escanaba, Bark River-Harris, Rapid River, and Carney-Nadeau have all been named bronze medal recipients in U.S. News & World Report's Best High School rankings.
More than 21,000 public high schools in 49 states and Washington, D.C. were analyzed in this year's rankings using a three-step process, according to U.S. News & World Report's website.
The first two steps measured student performance using state proficiency tests as benchmarks - particularly in areas of math and reading. It also determined how well the school's least-advantaged and economically disadvantaged students performed compared to average schools in the state.
Schools fulfilling the first two steps were then assessed in a third step which examines how well schools prepare students for college-level work - using Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test data as benchmarks.
The top 500 schools with the highest unrounded college readiness index values received a gold medal, while the next 1,790 were awarded silver medals.
Bronze medals were awarded to 2,515 high schools who passed the first two steps of the methodology. Bronze medal recipients either do not offer any AP or IB classes or have a college readiness index less than the 14.8 needed to be ranked gold or silver, according to the website.
"This is I believe our first year that we have gotten this recognition from U.S. News & World Report," said Escanaba Area High School Principal Doug Leisenring. However, EAHS was designated a Reward School by the Michigan Department of Education last year.
Escanaba received an overall college readiness index score of 14.3 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. The other three local schools did not have a college readiness index score, which was based on AP and IB test data.
"When you look at the gap between our school and the state for disadvantaged kids, our kids scored 22 points higher, so we had a nice gap there," said Leisenring, adding the high school is very proud of the recognition for academic excellence.
Bark River Junior/Senior High School Principal Darren Bray said, to his knowledge, this is the second bronze medal Bark River has received.
Bray credited the teachers for playing an instrumental role in receiving the recognition.
"I also think that being progressive with technology and trying to give our students an advantage going into college and with testing and other things also helps," he said.
Bill Warning, Rapid River School principal, also commented on the positive news.
"It's a great honor to receive the bronze medal," he said. "We're all working hard, not only our teaching staff, but our support staff. We're trying to do what's best for kids and trying to stay up to date on the latest and most current instruction practices."
Carney-Nadeau interim superintendent and principal Adam Cocco said the high school is honored to receive the award.
"We received it last year as well," he said. "Our staff works extremely hard to serve our students and it's nice to see them recognized for that."
Though the bronze medal recipients were not ranked in state rankings, Houghton Central High School, a silver medal recipient, ranked highest of all U.P. schools at No. 27 in the state. Overall, seven schools in Michigan received a gold medal, 68 received silver, and 131 were awarded a bronze medal recognition.
For a complete list of results, visit www.usnews.com.