The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Educational heights

Examining MVHS’ placement in national school rankings
Lauren Chuu
MVHS received a US News & World Report Scorecard rating of 99.41 measured from aspects such as academics proficiency, graduation rate, and AP Exams.

MVHS placed 13th statewide and 105th nationwide among 18,000 high schools in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings released on Aug. 29, 2023. All five FUHSD schools ranked high, with MVHS placing first in the district. The rankings assess schools in five categories: College Readiness, College Curriculum Breadth, State Assessment Proficiency, State Assessment Performance and Proficiency and Underserved Student Performance. 

FUHSD Superintendent Graham Clark celebrates the five schools’ achievements of ranking high in all these areas, highlighting the success of the district overall. 

“We are thrilled that all five schools are in the U.S. News and World Report best schools,” Clark said. “It’s saying that all of our schools are in the top 40% for the nation. I don’t think there’s many districts that can say the same.”

Similarly, Guidance Counselor Sylvia Lam says the rankings don’t come as a surprise, as she believes many MVHS students grew up with the resources to help them excel in an academically rigorous environment. 

“We live in the heart of Silicon Valley, so I feel like in many of our families, parents are very educated, and they’re very resourceful and affluent, so they’re able to provide the resources for our students to help them improve not just at school but outside of school too,” Lam said. “So I think that plays a role in the academic culture here because we are immersed in a community where we value education.”

Clark adds that parents often go to great lengths to provide opportunities and resources for their children. He states that this ultimately represents another effect of attending a highly-ranked school like MVHS.  

“Parents want their kids to have the best educational experience,” Clark said. “There’s no doubt that parents want students to attend schools that are preparing them for college so MVHS definitely is that. I think that’s why a lot of parents would choose to move into the MVHS area and have their children attend MVHS.”

Junior and ASB Treasurer Peter Chen agrees with Lam and Clark but also notes that academic culture, although an important factor in MVHS’s ranking, can have both beneficial and adverse effects on students.

“We still have that kind of toxic environment where students compare scores and then you might see somebody is doing better than you,” Chen said. “That school culture can motivate you, and sometimes it’s good because you do better. But if you push people to their limits, it can also be bad, because we get hurt.”

However, Lam does not believe the rankings will have much impact on MVHS’ school dynamics, stating that students do not work towards insignificant numbers like rankings but rather strive for furthering their education through their innate drive to attend college. 

Clark, meanwhile, attributes the success specifically to aspects such as tests, graduation rate and the curriculum offered. He says that since the ranking criteria is based on academics, it naturally becomes a large part of the school environment. “MVHS is an outstanding school,” Clark said. “The performance of our students measured in many different metrics is outstanding, but clearly for this ranking, MVHS gives a lot of AP tests and students do very well on AP tests, and that’s the main factor. MVHS also does great with graduation rate, and the breadth of curriculum that it has. So all of those things play into it: everything that they’re looking at for in this award MVHS is very strong at, and the students are excelling at it.”

While Lam recognizes that gathering academic data is the most accessible for ranking a school, she wishes it could factor in other aspects like extracurriculars or unique educational opportunities offered. She adds that students should not solely focus on academics, since colleges have access to school profiles and demographics, so they can already determine if a school is academically strong. 

“They know the caliber of our students,” Lam said. “So colleges can even say ‘Maybe your student didn’t get an A, or even a B, but I know you produce very strong students.’ In their environment, they know that the students will thrive in that university setting. So to them it’s not so much about earning that specific grade, but also about where you’ve had your education.” 

Chen says the focus on academic achievement comes at a cost, with many students experiencing dwindling leisure time and constant stress from exams. To assist with creating a more relaxed culture for students, he says ASB holds lunchtime activities, gives free ice cream and runs other events at school for students to build community, and hopefully look forward to attending school. Lam also emphasizes practicing self care amid the looming pressures, focusing on being well rounded — instead of simply on grades — and taking care of personal, mental and physical health, something the guidance team assists with at MVHS. 

“I think that’s really what we also emphasize as counselors as we support our students over the course of four years,” Lam said. “At any time, we don’t talk about rankings. It’s really a holistic approach for you to build not just your academics, but for you to be well rounded. It’s not about earning the A’s but it’s about ‘Do you have those soft skills to be able to walk into a company and be able to carry yourself well?’ … We also prioritize mental health and physical health, and I think that’s really important.”

About the Contributors
Jason Chu, News Editor
Jason Chu is a junior and News Editor for El Estoque. He has enjoyed writing since a young age and also loves to play volleyball and guitar.
Lauren Chuu, Managing Editor
Lauren Chuu is currently a senior and a managing editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys making digital art, playing trivia games and watching kdramas.
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