Vt. schools make national survey - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. schools make national survey

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ESSEX, Vt. -

Financial literacy is on the agenda inside Justin Norris' Essex High School Math class.

"I think we have a rigorous and varied curriculum that allows students to pursue a wide variety of interests," Norris said.

The teacher said the curriculum is just part of the reason the school is standing out.
This fall it's joining a number of Vermont Schools on the U.S. News and World Report list of best public high schools in the country.  In the Green Mountain State, Stowe comes in at number one, Essex is second, South Burlington takes the third spot and Mount Mansfield and Colchester High Schools round out the top five.

"Not to be cliche-ish but what our students need now when they leave high school in terms of skills is perhaps different from what I needed and people in between needed when they left high school," said Essex High School Principal Rob Reardon.

A number of factors go into the annual ranking including math and reading proficiency, student teacher ratios and college readiness, but Reardon said he's focusing on more than just standardized testing. "It certainly has a place, but I don't think it should be overly emphasized more so than other metrics that you would measure," he said.

At Colchester High School, educators said part of their strategy for success involves an increased focus on the 3-Rs -- relationships, rigor and relevance. "We always say to each other, you can't teach kids that you don't know. That mission and that philosophy and belief permeates throughout the whole entire community," said Jean Shea, Colchester's Director of Support Services.

Woodstock, Lake Region, Rutland, Middlebury, and Mill River fill spots six to ten in Vermont. It's a diverse mix that may have a key trait in common.  "I think we are really lucky to be in a really great community. We have incredible kids and incredible parents and incredible faculty who all work together toward the same goal," Shea said.

Most admit the ranking is not a perfect science, but it's not stopping them from shooting toward the top.  "First should be the goal for everybody to provide the best education for your students in your town," Justin Norris said.

The message in Essex and Colchester is -- watch out Stowe.

We wanted to include number one ranking Stowe High School in our report. Unfortunately the principal there was concerned our interacting with teachers and students would interfere with their daily routine.

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