Marine Science Magnet ranked sixth-best high school in state

Groton — Marine Science Magnet High School is the best high school in eastern Connecticut, the sixth-best in the state and the 352nd-best in the country, per new rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

That puts it in the top 2 percent of the 20,548 public high schools the publication ranked — which Principal Nicholas Spera called "wild" for a school that's only seven years old.

Because its ranking was below 500, Marine Science Magnet was named a gold medal winner. It was named a silver medal winner last year.

"One big factor is our teachers are so motivating and so nurturing to the students, that it's comfortable to get outside of the comfort zone," he said.

According to U.S. News & World Report, its methodology began by determining whether students at each school performed better than statistically expected — factoring in rates of economically disadvantaged students — on state math and reading assessments. The rankings also factor in graduation rates and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.

At Marine Science Magnet, AP participation is 79 percent, with a passing rate of 74 percent. Ninety-four percent of students achieved proficiency in reading, compared to 63 percent in the district and 60 percent statewide.

Spera attributes this to Accountable Talk, a practice out of the University of Pittsburgh that encourages students to talk to one another about topics and use evidence.

Marine Science Magnet has 271 students and gets 500 applications each year for about 65 seats, which are selected through a random lottery, Spera said.

The five Connecticut schools ranking above Marine Science Magnet are Amistad Academy in New Haven, Connecticut IB Academy in East Hartford, Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. in Hartford, Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor and Ridgefield High School.

Connecticut has 15 gold-medal schools, 26 silver-medal schools and 15 bronze-medal schools.

Two high schools in southeastern Connecticut were awarded silver medals, meaning they ranked between 501 and 2,711 in the country. East Lyme High School was ranked 22nd in the state and 781 in the country, while Fitch High School — in Groton — was ranked 34th in the state and 2,013 in the country.

e.moser@theday.com

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