Over the past few weeks, the Sentinel has been documenting the performance of the public high schools on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro.

As a guide, The Sentinel uses the research done by the Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), which, in turn, uses state assessment data generated by the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP).

Blue Valley North, best raw scores in the metro, probably in the state.

To determine which high school performs “best” the Sentinel has adopted a fairly simple and workable formula: We add the percent of students judged college and career ready in English language arts (ELA) to the percent of students judged college and career ready in math to the percent of students deemed “low-income.”

Low-income is usually the killer variable in judging school performance. Typically, but not always, the more low-income students, the lower the school’s score. Those schools that succeed despite a high percentage of low income students deserve the bonus points.

For the record, 40 percent of the public school children in Kansas come from what are deemed low-income homes. The state defines “low-income” as a family of four with less than roughly a $50,000 a year income. Some 48 percent of these families are headed by a single parent. In 81 percent of these home at least one parent does not have a high school degree.

10. Shawnee Mission North 105  35 ELA, 25 Math, 45 Low-Income

9.  Shawnee Mission South 109  42 ELA, 38 Math, 29 Low-Income

8.  Olathe North 110  37 ELA, 30 Math, 43 Low-Income

7.  Olathe Northwest 111  47 ELA, 50 Math, 14 Low-Income

6.  Blue Valley High  112  55 ELA, 51 Math, 6 Low-Income

5.  Shawnee Mission Northwest 114  44 ELA, 41 Math, 29 Low-Income

4.  Shawnee Mission West 116  41 ELA, 31 Math, 44 Low-Income

3.  Shawnee Mission East 117  56 ELA, 51 Math, 10 Low-Income

2.  Blue Valley North 127  61 ELA, 54 Math, 12 Low-Income

  1.  Sumner Academy (KCK) 156  39 ELA, 44 Math, 73 Low-Income
The Sumner Academy champion debate team

Conclusions: Sumner is the one public school in Kansas that plays by a different set of rules. To qualify for Sumner, elementary school students must have good grades, good test scores, good attendance, and a history of good conduct. Other public schools would do well to build in comparable expectations even if they cannot be structured as demands.

The Shawnee Mission School District would seem to be the strongest of all the suburban districts. Shawnee Mission West, for instance, gets better raw scores with a 44 percent low-income population than Louisburg High does with 18 percent low-income or Basehor-Linwood does with 16 percent.

Kudos to Blue Valley North for having the best raw scores of any public school in Kansas.

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