New 'Smartest School' Rankings Spark Debate Over Best Schools

Real Estate Agent with President, Sequel Luxury RE 112837S

Our recently released "SAT" rankings of Greater Boston's 'smartest' public high schools based exclsuively on SAT scores turn the tables on this year’s Boston Magazine rankings (September 2016): by ranking schools using their graduating students’ SAT scores – a singularly quantifiable benchmark as compared with Boston Magazine’s much broader criteria – 6 schools made the list that weren’t in Boston Magazine’s top 25 and 13 schools moved 5 spots or more, comprising more than half of Boston Magazine’s top 25.   

The new SAT rankings put Lexington High in 1st place with an average combined SAT score of 1,908 for its recent crop of seniors, followed by Dover-Sherborn (1,870), Acton-Boxborough (1,854), Newton South (1,830), and Weston (1,829) rounding out the top 5. Most notably among this “top 5” group versus the Boston Magazine rankings is the inclusion of Acton-Boxborough (3rd versus 8th) and a drop for Wayland from 4th to 11th. (Slater’s rankings exclude Boston Latin, which is an exam school and which would have placed first among all high schools with a score of 1,920, or .6% above Lexington.)

I admit that while SAT's may not be ideal for determining academic proficiency, let alone life potential, absent other criteria, I think most people would agree that average SAT scores for a graduating class tell a story which parents want to hear, especially those evaluating new communities and schools for their children.

Obviously, I am using the word “smartest” in a tongue and cheek way, but I think it's clear that Boston Magazine’s methodology, which includes 16 columns of criteria in its rankings and seems to weigh all criteria evenly -- from average class size to students per varsity sport to 10th grade MCAS proficiency to senior class SAT scores -- produces results which are potentially distorted for many parents primarily focused on academics.

I know that many of our clients would like to see and compare additional criteria, such as the percentage of students in advanced placement classes or the percentage admitted to the top 20 or 25 colleges as ranked by US News and World Report.  

It seesm to me that the breadth of the criteria used by Boston Magazine together with the weighting applied to those criteria obscure the rankings. To a large extent, smart kids push each other and help each other. For that reason, many of our clients want their children to be among other top students as a key priority.

The biggest “winners” from the SAT rankings include Lexington taking over the top spot (2nd to 1st), in addition to: Acton-Boxborough (8th to 3rd), Lincoln-Sudbury (15th to 7th), Brookline (20th to 8th), Belmont (38th to 10th), Newton North (35th to 12th), Arlington (28th to 19th), Andover (43rd to 21st), and Hamilton-Wenham (36th to 22nd).

The rankings also highlight the percentage difference between schools’ scores from Lexington’s top score. What you see is a lot of schools are bunched; for example, just 20 points (or less than 1%) separate the scores from #7 Lincoln-Sudbury to #13 Bromfield. That seems like a pretty small difference to me. The list also shows a large group of schools bunched towards the end of the “top 25” with just 30 points (or 1.6%) separating #19 Arlington from #25 Marblehead. 

In a nut shell: I think most people would say that those schools where kids are scoring highest on their SATs are doing something right. Many of my clients are hungry for this kind of quantifiable data.

For the actual rankins and raw data, go to www.LuxuryBostonBrokers/blog.

Contact Info: Jonathan Slater, President

Castles Luxury Properties

617-216-4000 or


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