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Poll ranks West High among nation's best
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Forsyth County News

West Forsyth High School has been around just four years, but the school is getting noticed.

In the first Washington Post Challenge Index, or ranking of the nation’s top schools, West was listed as the 901st best in the nation.

"I’m happy to know that in such a short period of time we’ve been able to make the list," Principal Richard Gill said. "We’re happy to be on the list, but we know we can move up, and we believe we can do that, also in a short period of time."

The poll highlighted the West’s 98.2 percent four-year graduation rate and that students took 754 Advanced Placement exams, with 64 percent receiving college credit.

About 66 percent of West graduates also go on to a four-year college or university.

"It starts with teacher quality. I don’t think there’s any [question] about it," Gill said about his school’s success. "Research has indicated quality teachers are more important than smaller numbers in the classroom.

"I also think we have a tremendous community that does a great job with their kids and they send them to West and we take it from there."

The Washington Post’s rankings were designed to "reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college," according to the Web site.

To calculate each school’s rank, the poll used a formula that divides the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests given by a school in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors.

That is where West was at a disadvantage. While the school excels in most of those areas, it does not offer an IB program.

The county’s lone such program is at South Forsyth High School, which ranked 554th on the Washington Post poll.

Gill said that’s not stopping his school.

"Certainly an IB program’s got to help, but we don’t take any kind of view like that," he said. "Whatever it is, we’re going to work hard to do the best we can for the students in our community and we’re not going to make any excuse.

"We’re just going to go for it. Whatever the rules are, we’re going to play within those rules. I think we can seriously impact this list even more next year."