Mashpee One of America's Most Challenging High Schools

The Washington Post has released its annual rankings of America’s Most Challenging High Schools, and Mashpee High School made the list for Massachusetts at number 17 out of 97 high schools throughout the state.

High school principal Jane A. Day said she was thrilled when she heard the news.

“We moved up from last year and it’s the fourth year that we’ve been on the list,” she said.

In 2011, Mashpee ranked number 37, jumping to 15 the following year. Last year, the school made the list again at 26.

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The school’s recovery may have been partially influenced by the Post’s new ranking system, Ms. Day said. It now includes the number of minority students in each high school for an “Equity and Excellence” component, which considers the percentage of students whose families qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.

The index score that determines each school’s ranking consists of the number of college-level tests administered at a school the previous year divided by the number of graduates. Of the two Cape schools to make the list, Mashpee received an index score of 2.591 and Sturgis Charter Public School scored 5.828, the latter ranking number one in the state.

“I think it has a lot to do with the philosophy that people [in the school] have adopted,” Ms. Day said of Mashpee’s success. “Our doors are always open [for students] to try Advanced Placement classes but you really have to try for it.”

She added that the school’s numbers have jumped since it joined the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative (MMSI), a high school math and science program geared toward underserved students, three years ago.

“It’s made a big difference to the morale of the students and how they perceive themselves as being competitive. You can see it in the kinds of schools they’re applying to and the schools they’re being accepted into,” Ms. Day said.

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