Area has 3 schools in top 25

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All three high schools in northern Logan County have earned spots among the 25 best performing high schools in the state, according to U.S. News’ list of the best high schools in the nation.

Placing in the top 25 were Scranton High School, listed the 12th best high school in the state, County Line High School, listed the 15th best high school in the state, and Paris High School, listed the 23rd best high school in the state.

With three schools in the top 25, northern Logan County has the second highest concentration of schools in the top 25. Northwest Arkansas has eight schools listed in the top 25. According to Paris School Superintendent Wayne Fawcett, having every high school in the northern part of the county listed among the 25 best is “pretty salty.”

“Within a 10 to 15 mile radius of Paris, you’ve got three of the top 25 schools in the state. That’s quite an achievement for this area,” he said. “It’s also quite an achievement for this to happen in a rural area.

“It’s especially important when you consider that northwest Arkansas has a far larger population than north Logan County and a greater saturation of schools,” he said. “You don’t see any Little Rock schools in the top 25. There are no North Little Rock schools in the top 25. There are no Pulaski County schools in the top 25. This accomplishment for the area is a testament to the kids, the teachers and the communities of north Logan County. This is a pretty big deal. It shows there’s a high level of educational quality existing in a very small slice of the state.”

The schools were ranked based on student-teacher ratio, the college readiness of students as determined by results of Advanced Placement testing, and proficiency in geometry and literacy. Scranton and County Line high schools were awarded silver medals. Paris was also awarded a silver medal and rated a bronze medal in last year’s rankings.

There are 79 Arkansas schools ranked in the U.S. News Best High Schools 2013 rankings, including one gold medal school, 33 silver medal schools and 45 bronze medal schools.

Like Fawcett, administrators in the County Line and Scranton district were happy with how their schools ranked.

“I’m really pleased by this,” said Dr. James Bridges, superintendent of the Scranton School District. “We’ve had pretty good scores all along. I think it speaks to the fact that our students have pretty good parenting at home. You’ve got to have support from home. We’ve also got good teachers who are performing well.”

“When we look at our data and compared it to other schools in our region, we’ve always performed well,” said Joan Jones, superintendent of the County Line School District. “I think that says we’re doing something right.

“We’re always looking at the data and seeing where we can make adjustments,” she said. “You can never say you’re done or you’ve arrived. We try to improve every year.”

Fawcett said the ranking speaks to the attitude toward education exhibited by students, teachers and parents.

“Our kids take education seriously,” he said. “They come to school and do their job. Our teachers take education seriously. They care about these kids and their futures. They don’t take their jobs lightly. Our parents care about their kids getting a quality education.”

Fawcett also added that he wants to see the district continue to improve.

“Paris moved up this year from bronze to silver,” he said. “We want to continue moving up. Everybody wants a gold medal.”

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