Hononegah, Turner excel in U.S. News high school rankings

Hononegah, Turner excel in U.S. News high school rankings Main Photo

7 May 2024

Two Stateline Area high schools finished in the top 100 in their respective states in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of best high schools.

Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Illinois, was ranked No. 59 out of 724 high schools in Illinois and Beloit Turner High School was ranked 86th out of 569 in Wisconsin.

Chad Dougherty, principal of Hononegah, said it always is nice to be acknowledged, but he said Hononegah doesn’t look at this ranking too closely.


“It’s based on data that’s two years in arrears,” Dougherty said.

Hononegah was ranked 1,370th out of 17,655 ranked schools in the United States. That put them in the top 9% in the country.

“We don’t make instructional decisions based on these numbers,” he added.

Still, he was quite happy with the underlying numbers that showed that, at least as of two years ago, 80% of Hononegah students were proficient in science.

“Our science department has worked extremely hard to align our curriculum with the (Next Generation Science Standards). We’re proud of the results and this year’s students tested even better,” he said.

Turner was ranked 2,977th in the country. Of the six Stateline Area high schools to be ranked — Turner, Beloit Memorial, Parkview, Clinton, Hononegah and South Beloit — Turner had the highest percentage of students to be proficient in reading.

Chris Koeppen, director of teaching and learning at Turner, said the school was happy to score highly, but the narrow focus of the ranking keeps it from being truly instructive.

”It validates one facet of the multiple factors we use to determine success,” Koeppen said in an email. “We regularly review how we can best prepare all students for an ever changing future and the effectiveness of our curriculum by analyzing standardized test scores and classroom assessments.”


U.S. News & World Report does a number of rankings. The news organization does annual rankings on colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, new cars, hotels, healthiest communities, even financial advisors.

Educators say it’s difficult to rank schools and school districts across state lines because of differing standards and widely different demographics.

Jim Brewer, superintendent of the Clinton School District, pointed out that this ranking is skewed heavily towards the percentage of students who take Advanced Placement classes. Clinton was ranked No. 306 in the state and 10,934th in the country largely because only 15% of its seniors took an AP class two years ago and only 4% passed.

Brewer said U.S. News doesn’t factor in the number of students who take Early College Credit Program and Start College Now Program (ECCP/SCN) classes.

“Clinton has a high amount of students engaging in those collegiate level classes compared to other academic institutions who may push students towards AP classes,” Brewer said.

He said traditionally about 40% of Clinton’s graduates at least start college.

U.S. News ranked 25,000 public high schools on six factors — the proportion of seniors who earned a qualifying score on at least one AP exam and on multiple AP exams, state assessment proficiency of all students and state assessment scores just from African-American, Hispanic and low-income students, as well as graduation rate.

The U.S. News ranking did not give any weight to schools who invest heavily in vocational education.

Beloit Memorial High School ranked 363rd in Wisconsin and 13,242nd nationally. BMHS was 4th among local high schools in terms of students passing an AP class and last in math, reading and science proficiency as well as graduation rate. In 2022-2023, though, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 24.6% of BMHS students took at least one work-based class. That was nearly three times the state average of 8.5%.

Rock County Christian School wasn’t ranked because it did not have enough students and The Lincoln Academy wasn’t as well because it still is not a full four-year high school.

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