Despite high percentages of economically disadvantaged, special ed students, D-B ranked 16th by magazine

Rick Wagner • May 27, 2018 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Of the top 24 Tennessee high schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennett High School had the second highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students and the highest percentage of special education students.

D-B made U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 ranking as one of the best high schools in the United States, ranked 16th in the state with a silver medal designation.

The report gave D-B the second-highest ranking in Northeast Tennessee, behind University School in Johnson City, a limited enrollment school that also earned a silver medal.

D-B ranked ahead of Science Hill and Greeneville high schools, which both had silvers, and Johnson County, Elizabethton, Unicoi County and Sullivan South, all with bronze medals.

Statewide, Central Magnet School in Rutherford County was first in Tennessee with a gold medal and 44th nationally. Morristown West in Hamblen County finished just ahead of D-B in the state.

High achievers

“D-B ranks among the very top high schools in Tennessee, even when compared to the best magnet and private schools across the state,” Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse said.

“This speaks to the investment our community has made to have an exceptional public school experience for all children, regardless of economic status or special needs,” Moorhouse said. “Even though D-B may have distinctly different demographic challenges when compared to other high-achieving schools, our students are achieving at the same levels as those top schools.”

D-B’s performance

When you look at a combined ranking of economically disadvantaged and special education students among the top 24, D-B had the highest combined ranking when both are given equal weight.

“We took the top 24 high schools in Tennessee and researched their percentages for economically disadvantaged and special education rates. Giving those two data points an equal weight, we scored and compared the top 24 high schools in Tennessee,” said Andy True, the school system’s assistant superintendent of schools for administration.

“Given these metrics, D-B ranks at the top of the list,” True said. “D-B is outperforming against schools with low-single-digit poverty and SPED (special education) rates.”

D-B has 30.4 percent economically disadvantaged students and 17.3 percent special ed students for a weighted percentage of 23.85 percent. D-B’s weighted percentage was higher than Morristown West’s weighted percentage of 20.55 and Oak Ridge’s 18.35.

Closer to home, Greeneville’s weighted percentage was 18.35 and Science Hill’s was 18.6. University School’s was 4.35 percent.

“This points to the return on investment to the Kingsport community and efforts by staff and students,” Moorhouse said. “We are comparable to schools with single or low-single-digit percentages in both economically disadvantage and SPED populations. ... When you drill down and combine those high-challenging demographics together, D-B performs the best in Tennessee.”

Among area schools

— University School, operated by East Tennessee State University but technically part of Washington County Schools, ranked 14th in Tennessee and 1,852th nationally, with a 100 percent graduation rate, a college readiness index of 31.7 and Advanced Placement participation of 42 percent.

— Morristown West ranked 15th in the state and 1,946th nationally with a 94 percent graduation rate, a college readiness index of 30.7 and Advanced Placement participation of 43 percent.

— Dobyns-Bennett ranked 16th in the state and 1,964th nationally, with a 96 percent graduation rate, 30.4 college readiness index and AP participation of 39 percent.

— Science Hill ranked 24th in Tennessee and 2,698th nationally with a 91 percent graduation rate, 26.7 college readiness index and AP participation of 25 percent.

— Greeneville ranked 23rd in Tennessee and 2,458th nationally with a 95 percent graduation rate, 24.3 college readiness index and AP participation of 29 percent.


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