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South Forsyth High ranks high in surveys
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Forsyth County News


South Forsyth High School recently was named among the nation’s best schools by both Newsweek and the Washington Post.

“We are just pleased to be recognized nationally for the great work the kids and teachers are doing,” said Jason Branch, principal. “I think it’s just a tradition of excellence that’s taken place here over a number of years.”

The school was ranked 294th in the nation by Newsweek, which surveyed more than 10,000 of the nation’s 27,000 high schools to compile its top 500 list. It was at least the third year in a row the school was named to the list, said Branch.

While South Forsyth is still ranked in the nation’s top 1 percent of high schools by the magazine, their ranking dropped from last year, when they were listed at 202. Branch said the drop was noticed by other schools too, because the magazine “changed the way that they factored their poll this year.”

“It’s not the same ranking system they’ve had in the past,” he said. “So I would suspect a number of schools have a different numerical score.”

Newsweek’s announcement said it revamped its methodology, used for the past decade, in hopes of highlighting solutions to cash-strapped school districts, test result mandates and other growing education concerns.

The Washington Post’s study, the High School Challenge, is new this year. The post had been ranking Washington-area schools since 1998, but expanded to high schools across the United States.

The 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 determine the ranks, the newspaper took the number of advanced placement, international baccalaureate or other college-level tests given by a school in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors.

South Forsyth, which ranked 554 in the Washington Post poll, likely made the list over other county high schools because it is the only one which offers an international baccalaureate, or IB, program.

Branch said in addition to the IB program, the school’s AP courses, culinary program, engineering program and a student scoring a perfect 2400 on his SAT are all a part of why the school gets noticed for having “just an outstanding instructional environment.”