Highland High School has been ranked No. 91 out of the 100 best schools in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report.
“I am really proud of our school, because to rank No. 91, you have to have supportive parents, great teachers and students who want to learn. We’ve got all of that, so we are really blessed,” said the HHS Principal Karen Gauen.
The high school, located at 12760 Troxler Ave., received a Bronze Award in the recent U.S. News & World Report’s high school rating report. No other school in Madison or St. Clair counties was ranked ahead of HHS. The only other school from the area that made the top 100 Illinois schools was Belleville West High School, which was ranked No. 100.
“We are really excited. This is a big deal,” Gauen said. “This has been a great last couple of years for us. We’ve been doing really well in the rankings.”
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The school ratings report is an annual study which looks at government data and ranks all of the schools in the nation. The report states that HHS has a 90 percent graduation rate, and the students have scored above the state average in mathematics and English testing.
For the last two years, the school has ranked at the top for PARCC standardized test scores in the metro-east, Gauen said.
The school also scored high marks in the “5 Essentials Survey” from University of Chicago, according to Gauen. She said that the data was based off of survey completed by staff, students and parents and that the findings suggest schools that score well are 10 times more likely to improve student learning than schools with low scores.
Gauen also said that, several years ago, the school adopted the motto: “We Are One! Staff – Students – Community!” and that mindset has helped to create a collaborative environment, which ultimately helps the students.
“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to thank our community, our teachers and our students, because it really does take every body working together. It is a collaborative effort,” Gauen said
HHS is also an Instructional Practices Inventory (IPI) school, where teachers gather data about students’ cognitive engagement in the classroom. The data is then analyzed by the school faculty to help teachers create and institute effective learning experiences for students. According to Gauen, the platform encourages teachers improve classroom learning by engaging students in “higher-order thinking.”
“It’s a way of having teachers collaborate together as part of the learning community, to create lessons that aren’t worksheet lessons, but they are lessons where kids are engaged in talking and peer-to-peer learning, synthesizing, analyzing, creating, problem solving — all the things you need to do in life,” Gauen said.
Gauen said that high school faculty will be spending the summer by “digging into data” to help make the school “an even better place to be.”