The High Bar

Andrew Uz, left, and Gus Grohmann are third-graders at McKinley Elementary in Arlington County, No. 1 in Northern Virginia on Standards of Learning exam scores.
Andrew Uz, left, and Gus Grohmann are third-graders at McKinley Elementary in Arlington County, No. 1 in Northern Virginia on Standards of Learning exam scores. (By Dayna Smith For The Washington Post)
By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 8, 2008

School rankings are addictive. The latest tallies of premier colleges or high schools are familiar to almost everyone with a child, or a job, at a nationally ranked school.

On Thanksgiving, The Washington Post tried a new analysis with state test data. It calculated the share of elementary school students in local school systems who reached the highest, or advanced, level of performance on reading and math tests. It found that many schools aim beyond passing, or proficiency.

Today, we show the top 25 elementary schools in Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs and the top 10 in the District, ranked by the percentage of students in grades 3 to 5 who had advanced scores on the Maryland School Assessment, the Virginia Standards of Learning exams and the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System. Where possible, we compare data with 2003 results. Numbers were rounded for the rankings.

All the usual caveats apply. Gains over time often matter more than one year's scores. Many students have economic or academic edges that others don't have.

Educators talk about "raising the bar," so we'll call this ranking the High Bar.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company