Berkeley High School was ranked number 57 on a list for best public high schools in California for 2017.
The list was created by Niche, a website that analyzes data to generate rankings and profiles for K-12 schools and was released in November 2016. Berkeley High received an overall Niche grade of A+, which was determined by grades in various sectors, including academics, health and safety, diversity, and quality of teachers. Each sector was weighted differently — academics was weighted at 50 percent and the other aforementioned sectors were weighted at 10 percent.
According to Jessica Hair, marketing outreach coordinator for Niche, a total of 1,753 public high schools were ranked in California.
“Coming in as number 57 is a great ranking,” Hair said. “Berkeley High School also came in number 26 in the San Francisco metro area.”
Hair said compiling data to accurately produce rankings is a lengthy process that takes months. She added that this was Niche’s third year of ranking public high schools in California.
“All our data comes from public sites like the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics,” Hair said. “Our team does proactive work to make sure our data is accurate.”
Christine Staples, president of the Berkeley Parent Teacher Association Council and Berkeley High parent, said in an email that the ranking “seems accurate” to her.
But Staples also cautioned relying solely on the Niche ranking when evaluating Berkeley High.
“Rating a school based on student achievement, test scores and which colleges students are accepted into feels rather misleading and arbitrary,” Staples said in her email. “I think it’s more important to know how much extra support goes into those scores; how many high achievers have a private tutor, a private SAT coach, a private college counselor?”
According to Staples, there are issues at Berkeley High that Niche cannot capture, such as problems with equity and sexual harassment.
Berkeley High has faced controversy over the past year regarding sexual assault lawsuits, as well as former principal Sam Pasarow’s abrupt leave of absence and resignation in early February.
Charles Burress, Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson, also said in an email that “no single ranking or assessment can capture the full value of educational opportunities at BHS.” He added, however, that Berkeley Unified School District was pleased with the ranking.
“This latest Niche ranking indicates the significant success we’ve achieved,” Burress said in his email. “It not only places Berkeley High in the top 5% of the state’s public high schools, but it also reflects the school’s continuing progress by showing a large leap from the previous year in Berkeley High’s place within the top 100.”