Rating Delaware Public High Schools

Filed in Delaware, National by on December 31, 2010

Delaware Today released their rating of the best high schools and there is no surprise which is number one. The rating is based on numerous numbers such as student-teacher ratios, graduation rates, dropout rates, AP courses offered and academic performance (DSTP scores). (pdf) Southern and Brandywine school districts did exceptionally well.

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Comments (21)

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  1. MJ says:

    I keep wondering what Cape is doing differently when they spend on average $5000 more per student than Charter does and rank lower every year.

  2. nemski says:

    As a parent of a child that will be going to one of the Brandywine high schools, I couldn’t be happier.

    The Charter School should not really be counted. They only time it should be is when it goes to Number Two.

  3. jpconnorjr says:

    Do you think that possibly that the 5k goes to things that a school on a realistic budget forgoes in order to concentrate on academics? Excess administrative costs do nothing in the classroom.

  4. Paratrooper18 says:

    How does the cost of builing the new high school impacts the Cape number?

  5. MJ says:

    JP – could be. I support school district consolidation. There is no reason why we should have 19 different school districts in a state our size. And some of the districts down here have only 1 or 2 schools, yet have a huge administration. The money needs to be in the classroom, not the front office.

    But the parochial interests in each district will fight consolidation.

  6. jpconnorjr says:

    Especialy since 14 of the 19 are in Kent and Sussex? I believe Cape is # 3 of the 14 after IR and CR.

  7. anononthisone says:

    MJ,
    Charter can control its population and Cape cannot. Same with Sussex Tech and Polytech – funding is different too. They are not truly public schools in that they have to welcome and accomodate EVERYONE that lives in a certain area. You are comparing apples to oranges, or in some cases, rotting oranges. It is less of an extreme effect with Cape than with lower income areas.

  8. Paratrooper18 says:

    The tech schools in each county really are a different animal completely. My daughter went to Sussex Tech, and while they have a better funding base than the local schools there are limitations to their cirriculum.

    Sussex Tech didn’t have AP courses until recently. It was not until my duaghter’s junior year until they finally offered one AP course.

    The limitation is on resources and time. The tech schools do have the luxury of limiting the number of students. However they also have to fit courses around the vocational cirriculum. Vocational programs are their core mission, so College Prep was never a focus.

    The tech schools are funded by a countywide tax, and Cape really resents it in Sussex County.

    One problem Cape has is that they waste resources. Cape is trying to grab funding from the countywide vocational tax, and they are even running a smear campaign against Sussex Tech.

    Cape has their own competing vocational program. Which is a waste of district resources. And in part it is due to the fact that they really resent the vocational system in Delaware. ( I think alot of it has to do with the fact that the tech schools pay their teachers top dollar, but also are very selective. )

    One thing I noticed about tech was the teachers enjoyed the job.

    I am from PA, so I find delaware’s school system a little odd. The fact that busing is not a right boggles my mind. In PA our daughter went to private school, and the school district was required to bus her. In lower delaware it was logistially impossible since the distance to any private schools was prohibitively far for us to drive her.

  9. Paratrooper18 says:

    I don’t buy the argument about accomodations. Sussex Tech did not discriminate for admissions and it is actually a lottery. They had a fair number of disabled students at tech. Even autistic students could go to tech, which cape did not have to deal with since the autistic school in Lewes provided for them.

    And I do not think Cape has to foot the bill for the autistic school in Lewes. I am almost sure of it, so I think they get off easy on accomodations.

  10. Newark schools (generally speaking, looking at the rankings) shouldn’t be doing so poorly when surrounded by tons of UD education majors. This is less Newark’s fault than the University and the state, which do very little to encourage out-of-state students to get engaged in the community and stay in the state after graduation.

  11. anononthisone says:

    The Tech lottery is a joke – it is a lottery among students who are qualified to be in it, meaning that they have solid grades their 8th grade year and few to no disciplinary referrals. Many of the “tech” programs have become CP programs. Things like “business” and “nursing” are college bound programs. We’ve come a long way from sending kids to Tech who are there for Tech traning because they are not college bound and are learning a trade such as automotive, plumbing, etc. They do have those things, but for many students they have become the part time jobs they work while in college.

    The bottom line is, it is about selectivity, and the Tech schools, while they have to take a certain number of disabled kids etc., have more choice about who their students are and can easily send back challenging students to their home districts, whereas the average districts do not have that option. Cape and the other districts have every right to be resentful about what Sussex Tech and the others have become.

  12. Geezer says:

    Vo-Tech schools have strayed far from their supposed mission, which is vocational education. It’s the biggest scandal in Delaware education.

  13. Paratrooper18 says:

    annon,
    There are a few programs that probably have no business being at tech. The media broadcasting is pointless. But nursing and business, along with some of the other programs that are technology based are not CP programs. Nursing students can become CNA’s, and 30 years ago my high school votech had the same program with the same goal.

    The lottery is joke, but that is because they have had issues with getting minority students. And the grades comment is false. That is something Cape has been spreading around. Yeah the students have to have a passing grade average, not exactly a real selective requirement, and hardly a high bar to jump.

    Discpline is the real requirement.

    And they cannot send disabled back to the district. That is just simply false.

  14. Paratrooper18 says:

    the real question is: Why is Cape duplicating the votech programs that the county already offers? Now Cape is not even going to allow Tech to do presentations to the 8th graders, or particpate in the open houses?

    I get it, cape needs money so they are trying to get the tech tax money for their district. But that has nothing to do with how Tech is operated, and has more to do with Cape and their poor management.

  15. anononthisone says:

    It has become a competition; notice the changes coming to Seaford High School as well…..some major innovations coming down the pike.

    Nothing I said was false; they can easily send back non spec-ed, especially for discipline. It is naive to say that putting a discipline requirement on it isn’t a major game changer as far as academics and everything else. Students have to be passing everything in 8th grade to go – not exactly a high bar as you said, but with Wagner’s Law and many districts only requiring students to pass certain subjects at middle school, still an added level of selectivity. While they CAN go into technical fields, many to most do not any more; instead, they are college bound. These districts have strayed from their missions and are a drain to the other districts in the counties that they impact. It is indeed a scandal.

  16. paratrooper18 says:

    The school districts in the county have ganged up on tech and their arguments are not based in any fact.

    I see that this disability discrimination issue has been fabricated since none of the other falsehoods have not swayed the issue.

    So now you are saying that disabled are not excluded, but put back to their school districts through discipline?

    So then you are saying that every kid that is disruptive has some medical condition, and therefore a disability.

    As a parent of a former student I can tell you the issues with tech, and while my daughter was attending they specifically were not preparing kids for college. ( my daughter graduated in 2009).

    It was actually a big concern of ours in decision process. And the SAT scores for Tech students is not as good as Cape.

    The problem was always that the academic courses were not college prep, and they were not the bare minimum either. They took a middle of the road approach. The requirements for the technical area limited their academic exposure to advanced math and history.

    Also they had one language; Spanish.

    My daughter never had trig. Imagine taking the SAT’s and not having taken trig. Next imagine taking Calculus without trig.

    And while alot of the kids from tech go to college; college also includes trade schools after high school. One thing they do not point out when they spread the false information is how many kids from tech end up going right into a career from tech.

    The reason for the lottery, which is fairly new, is so that they do not accused of discrimination. They do allocate spots to each district, then they randomly select from the students who apply from each district.

    I have not seen the latest numbers, but they do not have a large number of applicants beyond the size.

    I saw one of the accusations from Cape was that Tech was trying to recruit from their football team. which is impossible because they have a lottery. Also they only take 8th graders. So how can they recruit from Cape’s football team.

    And yeah having kids that pass all of their 8th grade courses with a C is a real tough requirement. But I get your point, why is it that the disabled kids at the middle school’s are being failed in courses?

  17. anononthisone says:

    I have difficulty even following some of your arguments. I’m not saying, nor would I, that all behavioral issues are disabilities. I’m simply saying that being able to exclude kids with behavioral issues is a huge boost to school climate and academics. My experience frankly comes from Polytech more than Sussex Tech, but I believe them to be similar in nature. The arguments DO have merit; you can ask almost any public high school teacher in Sussex County who doesn’t teach at tech, and they all recognize this as a major problem. The goal may not be college, but it is little secret that perception is that the Tech schools are “good” schools and a preferable choice than many of the other high schools, particularly the Western Sussex schools that are already struggling due to an impoverished population. Cape, as shown in the rating, is competitive with Tech, but Laurel, Seaford, etc. really sees the ill effect of losing their best students to the school that is supposed to be taking those who are not going on to college. The system is broken.

  18. paratrooper18 says:

    Actually if college is a goal then the tech schools are a poor choice. My daughter had a choice between Cape and Tech. Cape is the best school district in Sussex. And it has an excellent CP and AP program, and we made the choice for Tech.

    The flaw with the tech schools is that they are perceived as hurting college bound students. And it is actually the truth.

    A point that Cape and the school districts have been making down here for years. So now they are hurting for money and they are now throwing anything they can at tech, just to see which stirs up the public.

    And my point is that if a school district considers passing all courses with a “C” as their best students for 8th graders, then they have bigger problems.

    Back to CP. Parents like myself have fought hard with tech schools to provide more AP courses. My daughter maxed out her SAT’s, and the reason she did not get into Penn was because of Tech.

    It is harder to participate in after school activities due to the distance, which hurts college apps. They also do not have the breadth or course offerings.

    The points are not only without merit, they are intentionally false. That is my problem with the whole discussion.

    As a parent of a former tech student I have issues with the Tech system. First is forcing 8th graders to choose a career path. But the assertions being made by the school districts are false.

    This debate will accelerate in the next year or so. The tax base will shrink because the Real Estate boom is over. So all of these school districts that overspent and built expensive schools will fight even harder for tech money.

    Cape didn’t have to build a new school. They over inflated the cost of fixing the old school so they could justify building a new school. Even with the inflated numbers they should not have built a new school. Indian river did the same thing.

    This is why the tax cut extension was a mistake. Congress should have raised taxes and then used the money to bail out the states. People do not realize that the states need to be bailed out, and if they are not bailed out by the federal government, they will have to raise taxes.

    To a certain extent taxes are a zero sum game. So any tax cuts at the federal level will just mean tax increases at the local level.

    The worst part is that the state’s will not benefit from the local spending done by the state and local governments.

  19. anononthisone says:

    I agree with your conclusions. Sounds as though Tech might be harmful to the districts AND its college bound students. Again, much of my argument was based on experience with Polytech in Kent (which runs an activities bus, for instance) and from Western Sussex, where the schools are far from tops in the state. Either way, hopefully something can improve to help ALL of our students.

  20. Joanne Christian says:

    Oh pppllleeeaasssee…..another “hot topic” churned out by Delaware Today. Sorry, you have to go a little into the weeds to truly justify so much of what is measured here. Parents–take a deep breath, have heart, and continue being plugged into what your child is doing at what school and accessing your child to whatever advantages your school offers and things will be fine. It’s an individual pursuit. The only ones of these high schools who should be running for cover are the tech schools–they have consistently been well underwritten financially for years now, when the scope and breadth of their mission has drastically changed to just that–tech–technology as in CAD etc., etc.,. Good heavens, I know a kid who went from tech to a military academy, and many others to parallel excellent secondary institutions. This ain’t your daddy’s auto shop anymore. What a sensationalistic piece of “journalism” to write and put out when gee….stories and print media sales routinely dip. Don’t fall for it and be discouraged (or puffed up)—keep your own counsel, and follow your own child.

  21. Geezer says:

    “Parents…continue being plugged into what your child is doing at what school and accessing your child to whatever advantages your school offers and things will be fine. It’s an individual pursuit.”

    Which is exactly why so many people choose private schools. Public schools in Delaware are fine — if you have the time and knowledge to advocate for your kids. If you don’t — if you’re a single parent, or a two-career family — good luck, because there isn’t enough manpower at the schools to go around.

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