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Morris Area ranks high in U.S. News' study

The Morris Area High School will be honored Monday for its performance in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best High Schools rankings.

Morris Area was honored with a Bronze Medal designation.

The rankings were based on how schools compared to similar schools with similar students, the performance of disadvantaged students, and the school's college-readiness performance.

Morris Area performed well in the first two categories, but couldn't compete for the highest rankings since it does not offer Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, said Superintendent Scott Monson.

AP and IB programs typically are found in larger school districts, he said.

"Bronze medal status is as high as we could go without AP and IB," Monson said. "But it's still very good."

U.S. News & World Report evaluated 798 Minnesota school districts and judged 155 districts eligible for full analysis, Monson said.

Morris Area was among 48 state districts to earn Bronze Medal status or better. That put the district among the top 6 percent statewide.

"It's not very often you get recognized at a national level," Monson said, "and it shows what students, parents, teachers, staff and the community are doing to help us."

Monson noted that Chokio-Alberta, Sauk Centre, Minnewaska Area and Ortonville high schools also were included among the 6 percent ranking at Bronze Medal or higher.

"You have five school districts within 30 or 40 miles of each other in the top 6 percent," he said. "That speaks a lot about the quality of education in the area."

Minnesota's overall ranking wasn't as impressive. The state's 6 percent of Bronze or better was the fourth lowest ranking among the 41 states for which the ranking was applicable. Nationally, the state average of Bronze or better schools was 9.1 percent.

Minnesota had 13 schools that earned Silver or Gold Medal status (1.3 percent), which ranked 28th nationally.

Massachusetts had the highest percentage of Gold and Silver schools (8.6 percent), and New Hampshire had 15.4 percent of its schools rank Bronze or better, the top performance in the category.