Top 5 national-study ranking not good enough for retiring Central High principal

A nationwide study conducted by The Washington Post found that Central High School, located at Ogontz and Olney avenues, was Pennsylvania’s fifth most challenging high school.

The High School Challenge” based rankings on an “index score [which] is the number of college-level tests given at a school in 2011 divided by the number of graduates that year.”

Set the bar higher

Dr. Sheldon Pavel, principal of Central High School, said it is an honor to be ranked among the top challenging schools.

However, he said the ranking only provides one perspective. What it does not take into account, he said, are special programs offered by a school, its scope of curriculum or the students it serves.

“Being fifth is a good thing, but it does not tell the whole story of what we do,” said Pavel. “The ‘blue ribbon status’ is more indicative of the accomplishments of the school than rankings on one criterion.”

He maintained the indicators used in study discourage urban and larger schools, with an emphasis toward smaller, more affluent communities.

The National Blue Ribbon Award honors public and private schools where students achieve at high levels or narrows the achievement gap.

In that award process, public schools are ranked by students considered high performing, which is measured by performance on state assessments and improvement of students’ performance when 40 percent of its population hail from disadvantaged backgrounds.

District pleased with the news

School District of Philadelphia spokeswoman Deirdre Darragh said they were thrilled to see Central High School on the list.

The school has a 95-percent graduation rate which she attributed to both students’ accomplishments and Pavel, who has worked there for 28 years.

“Central High School has been lucky to have a great principal who is actually retiring this year,” said Darragh. “He has continuously set high standard for the students and made graduation and continuing on to a 4-year college a goal for all of his students. I think by setting high expectations, the students have really risen to the challenge.”

Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School was ranked number two in the state in the Post study.

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