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Rock Bridge gains national recognition

Rock Bridge is one of the best high schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The weekly newsmagazine, in collaboration with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 data research and analysis business operated by Standard & Poor�s, released the list of America�s best high schools on Friday.

One hundred schools, none of which are in Missouri, received a gold medal ranking.

Rock Bridge High School is among 405 in the country to earn a silver medal ranking and one of only two high schools in Missouri to receive that honor. Metro High School in St. Louis also earned a silver medal; 27 Missouri schools received bronze medals.

"We�re absolutely thrilled," Rock Bridge Principal Kathy Ritter said. "We know we have a great school. It�s wonderful when someone else notices."

Researchers evaluated 18,790 public high schools in 40 states, according to U.S. News & World Report. They looked at state assessment test scores, evaluated disadvantaged students� academic performance and measured how well a school prepares students for college. Only 3 percent of the schools evaluated received either a gold or silver medal.

Ritter said she believes Rock Bridge�s block scheduling, which provides longer class periods, contributes to the school�s success. "The block schedule allows teachers to have optimal situations in the classroom," she said. "We have also focused, in the last few years, on the Missouri Assessment Program test, and our numbers have been very strong."

Last year, 65 percent of 11th graders at Rock Bridge scored proficient or advanced on the communication arts portion of the MAP test, and 69 percent of 10th graders were proficient or advanced on the math assessment.

Rock Bridge also has seen a steady increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams, which allow students to earn college credit in high school. Last spring, 341 Rock Bridge students took the exams, up from 309 students in 2006.

The recent accolade means both Columbia high schools have been recognized by a national publication. For the past three years, Hickman High School has been on Newsweek magazine�s list of top 1,300 schools in the country.

"We certainly are pleased that these national organizations are recognizing the good work our teachers do and our students do in our schools," Columbia Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barnett said. "I think it�s important for our community to know we have an outstanding school district and we make every effort to educate all children. � It�s good to be validated in these areas that we are making good progress. In comparison to the country, we are coming out on top."

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