Rankings of Rhode Island’s high schools by online news site GoLocalProv has East Greenwich High School topping the list for the third year in a row, with neighbor to the south ranked at 15th. But, North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger says that the rankings are a bit misleading.
According to Auger, GoLocalProv’s methodology for determining the rankings “penalizes North Kingstown for exercising fiscal responsibility.” Fifteen percent of the ranking scores are determined by each schools student-to-teacher ration with another 15 percent going to per pupil spending. NKHS spends $13,700 per student on average with a student-to-teacher ration of 12. Only four schools (Portsmouth, Scituate, Barrington and North Smithfield high schools) with higher rankings than NKHS had lower per pupil spending while only Classical High School had a higher student-to-teacher ratio.
“These are things we’re getting penalized for here that we view as good things and show that we’re exercising fiscal responsibility,” said Auger. “We take pride that our pupil spending is lower than average.”
According to Auger, NKHS has comparable SAT and NECAP scores to many of the top 10 schools on the list and that the biggest difference between the schools is budgetary. Though top-ranked EGHS boasts $14,086 per pupil, second-place Narragansett’s average is a whopping $17,982 followed by third-placed Exeter-West Greenwich Senior High School with $16,778.
“If we spent that in North Kingstown, I probably wouldn’t have a job right now,” said Auger. “We graduate more kids, we do it less expensively and our test scores are about the same.”
With roughly 1,600 students (one of the largest student populations among suburban high schools), 88 percent of NKHS’ students will graduate in four years. EGHS’ graduation rate is 95 percent while Narragansett’s is 86.6 percent.
NKHS’ student population also allows the school to offer a breadth of programs and extracurricular activities to its students, according to Auger. Last year, NKHS was the only for its range of AP classes available to students. The school’s music program recently .
“Those kinds of opportunities and the breadth of music and sports that NKHS has, a place like Narragansett doesn’t have. They have 500 kids in their school and we have 1,600,” said Auger.
Despite the 15th-place ranking, Auger believes that NKHS is “as good of a high school as you can get in the state because of the spending and the range of extracurricular activities.”
“I think we’re in a good place in NK,” said Auger, whose two children attend the high school. “There’s really no chart that’s going to give the whole story.”