Kennedy’s the best school in Iowa


Ethan Divis

US News and World Report, a national weekly news magazine, has posted their rankings of the Best High Schools in America and Kennedy High School is ranked #1 in Iowa.  The news magazine is known for its rankings of colleges and graduate schools.  In the past few years US News has added the evaluation of high schools in the nation to their repertoire.  Kennedy is listed as the Best High School in Iowa and ranks 550 among the 21,035 public schools included in their national study.


Data for the high school rankings is gathered by a private research organization hired by the magazine, rather than being self-reported by the schools.  The data is collected and analyzed by the Washington, DC-based group, American Institute for Research, which is a highly regarded international research organization.


According to the information shared by US News & World Report, a three-step process is used to determine the Best High Schools.  “The first two steps ensure that the schools serve all of their students well, using performance on state proficiency tests (ITED, Iowa Assessments) as the benchmarks.  If a school passes through the first two steps, a third step assesses the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work.”


A school must hit the mark in the first step to move to the second step, and must pass the second step to be considered for the third.

• Step 1:  Determines if the students perform better than statistically expected for the average in the state in reading and math.  The percent of low income students served by the school is factored into the results.

• Step 2:  For schools passing the first step, results of the school’s least-advantaged students (black, Hispanic, low-income) are studied to determine if their performance is better than average for similar populations in the state.

• Step 3:  Schools making it past the first two steps become eligible for the final step of determining students’ college readiness, based on national criteria of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data.  The third step measures which schools produce the best college-level achievement for the highest percentage of their students.


The 2013 rankings are based on enrollment and test data from the 2010-2011 school year.


Kennedy High School is ranked #1 in Iowa in 2013 and has been ranked in the top five schools in Iowa in the Best High Schools in America published in 2007, 2008, and again in 2012.


Kennedy High School is also ranked as one of the top high schools in Iowa by Jay Matthews of the Washington Post.  Kennedy has been ranked one of Iowa’s top schools in Matthew’s America’s Challenge Index annually since 2005.