A Gainesville high school was recently ranked in the top 30 of the Washington Post’s list of most challenging high schools.

Eastside High School came in at No. 27 on the list, up six spots from last year’s report.

The Washington Post ranks high schools nationwide based on an index score that comes from the number of tests such as Advanced Placement exams and, in Eastside’s case, International Baccalaureate divided by the number of graduates that year, according to its website.

The ranking also notes the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test while attending the high school.

Eastside’s index score for this year is 8.966. The No. 1 ranked school this year was American Indian Public Charter in Oakland, Calif., with an index score of 21.909.

Even though the school has ranked as high as No. 16 in 2007, principal Jeff Charbonnet said it will take the bragging rights.

“It’s one measure of the effectiveness of a school,” Charbonnet said. ”It certainly doesn’t show everything.”

Eastside offers mentoring and tutoring programs and fosters a culture with high expectations for all students, he said.

“Our graduation rate is increasing, and our percentage of college-bound graduates is also increasing,” he said. “Taking those two together shows very positive improvement at our school.”

Out of the top 50 high schools on the list, 11 were in Florida, with the majority in Jacksonville and Miami. Texas was the only other state with more schools in the top 50.

UF electrical engineering junior Alon Krauthammer, a 20-year-old Eastside alumnus, said the tough curriculum helped prepare him for engineering classes, and students were also encouraged to explore all subject areas.

“Many of the teachers really instilled the mindset that you have to be well-rounded, and it’s important to learn about a variety of things,” he said.

But Krauthammer said although he enjoyed his time at Eastside, rankings don’t take all factors into consideration.

Rachel Sheahan, a 20-year-old UF theater performance sophomore, said she graduated from Eastside in 2012.

Sheahan, who took part in Eastside’s IB program, said she agrees the classes were challenging.

“I think a program like this attracts smart and motivated people to begin with, but EHS does a great job of molding and developing these people into the best students they can be,” she said.

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 4/14/2014 under the headline "School in Gainesville ranked 27th most challenging in US"]

(1) comment


So, we know the IB program is tough. What about the rest of the school curriculum? These sorts of rankings are inherently misleading. Eastside is in many ways two schools in one.

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