Where’s Lakeside on the US News list of top high schools?

Congratulations to DeKalb School of the Arts, Arabia Mountain and Chamblee High School (all with magnet programs) for making the list of top high schools published annually by U.S. News.

For many years, Lakeside retained bragging rights as one of the top schools in Georgia to make the US News top list. But now, they aren’t even a contender. Surely this is a sign of the falling achievement levels or at least an imbalance in success in our traditional schools. Those that can have fled to private, charter or magnet schools, which have all done well having absorbed our best and brightest—and provided excellent teachers with low student to teacher class ratios. (#2 ranked DSA: 13:1, #6 ranked Chamblee: 15:1 and #14 ranked Arabia: 17:1)

Click here to see the Georgia ranking list showing class size and relevant data. All schools are listed and have data for your review. To their credit, Lakeside, shown as larger than the average GA high school and with a student-teacher ratio of 18:1,  tested 70% of AP students with 39% of them passing the AP exam.  DSA tested 100% of AP students with 75% passing the test, Chamblee tested 68% of AP students with 48% passing the test and Arabia tested 100% of AP students with 19% passing the test.

Click here to see how the rankings were calculated.

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55 Responses to Where’s Lakeside on the US News list of top high schools?

  1. We also must point out that many of Lakeside’s 99 teachers are special education and have very small classrooms, yet are simply part of the 18:1 calculation achieved when dividing the total student population of 1,804 by 99 teachers. (Ratio equals 18:1 technically, but we all know that the classes are much larger for most students.)

  2. Miss Lithonia says:

    At least you’re not Lithonia! Ms. Moton, former Lakeside principal is now principal here.

  3. concernedmom30329 says:

    Those three schools get significant bumps because of their motivated minority populations. It is admirable that minority students are doing well at those schools, but the fact that Walton, Northview etc aren’t in the top 20 in GA though they have the highest SAT averages in the state speaks a bit about methodology.

  4. Steven says:

    Pope and Walton are not on the list either. These are not signs of “the falling achievement levels or at least an imbalance in success in our traditional schools”. These are merely signs that these schools do as well as expected for their economic areas. Lakeside is expected to be a decent school, therefore it is excluded for consideration for this list. The list doesn’t provide what it says it does. Like headlining a list, The 100 Best Songs of All Time, and then putting in the small print; *Only Left Handed 14 year olds were considered.

  5. John says:


  6. The Good Stuff says:

    Actually, this is because of the fact that the data with which the US News/World Report bases their rankings was not submitted in time. The entire staff of Lakeside was displaced to an elementary school the past two summers because of their construction, making communication a significant challenge. Lakeside is doing just fine and, over the past three years, has shown improvement in its already impressive AP program.

    Sorry, no story here – move along.

  7. John Dewey III says:

    The US News methodology stresses AP and IB programs above all else……..

  8. concernedaboutdekalb says:

    Miss Lithonia, as someone who is white, middle class my whole life, finishing up a PhD at a Research I University, and living in the north Decatur area, and who has some knowledge of schools in Lithonia through family on staff there, I can tell you that most of the teachers at Lithonia work just as hard and are just as committed, maybe more so (since I know personally that many remain to serve kids in need rather than fleeing for easier turf, even when sorely tempted), as those in other areas. There are many reasons why Lithonia struggles as a school. The Harlem Shake is unlikely to be one of them. Ms. Moton may not have been the best principal for Lakeside, I really have no idea since all that happened before we arrived in Dekalb County, but I will tell you that things are reportedly better at Lithonia since she arrived. Prior principals did not even try to maintain discipline in the halls and improve teaching and learning.

    Regarding principal assignments on the broader scale, if excelling principals would be willing to work at, or assigned to work at, struggling schools, rather than putting those principals who may be struggling themselves at the schools where “nobody will notice” (which I believe happens in Dekalb frequently), we could potentially lift the learning of those who do not have the support at home from educated and involved parents. I know from some research I did in Gwinnett in a prior job connected to Broad Foundation programs, that Gwinnett purposefully assigns their best principals to their struggling schools, and I believe anyone would say that they are doing a lot better than Dekalb these days. Ensuring that no kids are thrown away is key because 1) they are part of the future workforce of our world and 2) democratic society benefits from educated members. I understand that people on this blog are most concerned with their own kids and their own neighborhoods, but you all need to understand that if someone can only afford a house in Lithonia, that should not sentence their children to a poorer education than kids from Lakeside. In fact, kids who do not have the advantages that I had, having college educated middle class parents with resources for enrichment, may need an even better education at school, because they will not have access to as many educational opportunities outside the classroom.

    Or you know, let’s just carry on with flipping out about “those people” and the likelihood that they might end up in school with “our people.” Or even more revolting, let’s celebrate that at least our neighborhood school is not “that school.”

  9. Marney Mayo says:

    I would also point out that since this year’s AP exams haven’t been given yet, these must be last year’s numbers…i.e. before half of DSA’s arts staff was cut. and whatever else has been done elsewhere.

  10. Tired Mom says:

    For comparison’s sake…and if you can make any sense of the reasoning, please fill me in…these rankings are often meaningless. Which takes nothing away from DSA, Chamblee, and Arabia…but simply makes the point that there’s no need to slam the other schools that don’t make the list.

    Chamblee Charter (#6):
    College Readiness score–53.3
    Math Profficiency–3.5
    L/A Proficiency–3.6
    Student/Teacher Ratio–15:1

    Arabia Mtn (#14):
    College Readiness–39.1
    Student/Teacher Ratio–17:1

    Dunwoody (unranked):
    College Readiness–40.6
    Student/Teacher Ratio–16:1

    Druid HIlls (unranked):
    College Readiness–31.3
    Student/Teacher Ratio–18:1

    Lakeside (unranked):
    College Readiness–46.3
    Student/Teacher Ratio–18:1

  11. Tired Mom says:

    ps…I did not include DSA’s numbers because, IMHO, their numbers and results are skewed by such a small and self-selective population.

  12. Murphey says:

    Can anyone confirm that the video is really Lithonia High School? Can anyone identify the teacher in the video? I am appalled and so disappointed.

  13. MissMaybe says:

    The teacher is [name redacted]. Purportedly, the video is the first draft of a “Harlem Shake” video (a popular Internet meme). While it’s not educational, exactly, it isn’t necessarily an indication of the complete abandonment of academic goals. Every (good) teacher stops to have a minute or two of fun every once in a while; it builds relationships and fosters a positive classroom environment. I’m much more concerned about the physical fight between this teacher and another from Lithonia that 11Alive reported at Lithonia HS last week: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/289179/3/Dekalb-teachers-on-notice-for-fight-YouTube-video

  14. bettyandveronica1 says:

    pull your pants up! Why can’t they enforce the basic of school policies? I have no problem with a teacher enjoying the moment but this was ridiculous and in poor taste.

  15. Kim says:

    Lakeside is full of smart kids no matter what this report says. Rankings are always fraught with “details” … my understanding is that good old Cross Keys took a hit this year in these rankings due to the test fees situation. Prior to this year, qualifying students could take the AP tests and the fees were covered. Not so this year – only one test was funded and this means many of our students would not be able to sit for the AP after taking the classes. So while the pass rates are excellent the overall number seems very low. One more example of the endless reasons we have to try harder to support our CK kids. One teacher and classroom is looking at self-publishing a cookbook and selling them to raise money for AP test fees – love the creativity! Are the kids at your school fundraising to be able to take a second or third AP test? Sorry, I am bragging again …

    Who wants an international cookbook? Perhaps we’ll pre-sell them for them next year … so many gaps to fill and so little time …

  16. dekalbteacher says:

    Sorry,but Lakeside is not full of smart kids. Perhaps 20% of the population consists of bright and motivated students with well-educated and supportive parents. They each take umpteen AP tests and score well on the SAT, so the school itself looks good on paper. The sad thing is that the Lakeside mystique makes it even more difficult for those who struggle. The school’s culture is still rooted in the past and does not include the kids who cannot read and those who take five years to graduate. It’s time to figure out how to make the school work for all of its current students, just as we need to do county-wide.

  17. Kim says:

    Well, dekalbteacher, I can’t take issue with your taking issue with my phrasing because all I intended to communicate is that Lakeside isn’t somehow slipping just because of their U.S. News ranking. I don’t know beans about Lakeside so lay on with my blessing … I do retain emotional scars from attending Lakeshore High and having everyone say, “Oh! Lakeside is such a great school – you’re so lucky!” I hated the Vikings when I was a Lancer … lol.

  18. Ms. Dekalb says:

    This video is absolutely appalling!! A teacher should be responsible enough to ensure that he sets the proper example and expectations for his students. Where is the leadership displayed in this video? As far as I’m concerned the teacher should have reprimanded the student for interrupting the class during instruction instead of joining in the distraction. I am also concerned with the fight that took place between Mr. Browner and Mr. Madison. In fact, I am very curious to know how unethical behaviors are handled at Lithonia High School starting with the Principal Ms. Moton downwards. Especially when a principal is aware of the behaviors displayed in this video and has done nothing to address them! Yes, teachers good teachers should foster a positive environment, however this is not an example of that!!

  19. A Very Concerned Parent says:

    This video of the Harlem Shake is a disgrace and should have never taken place, we don’t send our Kids to school to act as if their in a club, this is not acceptable! There’s a lot of bullying and disrespectful things going on at Lithonia High School, and the faculty is afraid of speaking up, because they are afraid of losing their jobs….the incident between Mr. Browner and Mr. Madison was very much known to happen, Mrs Moton and the assistant principal and several others were told by Mr. Browner that he was going to F.#%€ up Mr. Madison before the school year ended, this goes to show how things are covered up and they don’t want it to be exposed. But the facts are there, with this being said, they knew that this was going to happen and did nothing about it! No one faculty member should be able to stand before leadership and make such a statement and no actions be taken….there are so many witnesses that saw what happened and know its wrong, this is all not a good look for our kids.

  20. Kim says:

    Speaking of the details … I took the time to read some of the ranking methodology and found an example of why we should be cautious in using these systems to judge a school’s quality.

    The rankings in this report are driven primarily by AP and IB test scores. For example, the very impressive sounding “College Readiness Index” is:

    “… based on exam participation rates and percentages of students passing at least one exam.”

    Inherently, the more students who take the tests and the more tests individual students take, the better school results will be in the ranking. I’ll use my favorite two DeKalb high schools to illustrate. Note that the participation rate for AP at Chamblee (CCHS) is 68% while at Cross Keys (CKHS) is it 33%.

    The average number of tests taken by the test taker at CCHS: 4.3. The average number of tests taken by the test taker at CKHS: 2.4. So we have more than double the number of test takers taking double the number of tests with the ranking based on which students pass at least 1 test.

    Having four attempts at passing at least one test versus two chances … I’ll take those odds every time.

    I share this type of data not to take away from the accomplishment at CCHS – it stands on its own merit. I share because the average resident, homebuyer, and realtor will simply turn these rankings around and say Cross Keys is not a good school. Please look at the underlying data and put it in context.

  21. Just a Mom says:

    I will agree with dekalbteacher that Lakeside is not full of smart kids. I will though disagree with the comment about the Lakeside “mystique”. Most average or struggling kids who go there have every opportunity to improve themselves and/or be involved if they care enough to try. There are many, many teachers I have met who want the kids who are struggling to come in for extra help, there is peer tutoring, there are so many activites to try that might just spark an interest in something that makes coming to school enjoyable, etc. You can’t make the kids care if they don’t want to – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”

  22. concerned citizen says:

    What disciplinary action has been taken against the two fighting teachers at Lithonia? What action has been taken against the principal for knowing about it and not shutting it down? The two teachers should be in jail. I guess this is the end of our schools as we knew them.

  23. Dunwoody Patch has a post about Dunwoody’s lackluster results in the US News rankings:

    Dunwoody Doesn’t Rank With Others Locally on the U.S. News and World Report Best Schools List

    Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology ranked #3 in the nation on the US News list:

    Academic Indicators

    National Rank
    College Readiness Index
    Math Proficiency
    English Proficiency
    Student/Teacher Ratio

    09–12 Grades
    596 Students
    39 Teachers

    Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology

    Phone: (678) 518-6700

    District: Gwinnett County Public Schools

    Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology is ranked 1st within Georgia. Students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® course work and exams. The AP® participation rate at Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology is 100 percent. The student body makeup is 62 percent male and 38 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 71 percent. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology is 1 of 22 high schools in the Gwinnett County Public Schools.

    Will we learn from their example or will we keep our heads in the sand and continue to make excuses as to why our schools are losing ground?

  24. ShooShee says:

    @Mom: Has your child ever attempted to use any of these extra tutorials at Lakeside? Mine did — several times — and of those tutorials the teacher and/or the student tutor showed up exactly ZERO times! My poor child sat outside a closed classroom door or waited at an empty table in the cafeteria at 7:30 am or after school several times until I finally put the kibash on it and hired a private tutor.

  25. concernedmom30329 says:

    Gwinnett is a total school of choice, very, very self selecting.
    The issue @ Dunwoody and Lakeside is that their minority populations under perform other schools. But most of the stats on Lakeside are similar or better than the schools on the list. Not defending Lakeside but the fact that Walton and Northview aren’t on the list says something about the list.

  26. murphey says:

    Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology is a charter school which is open to any student. However, students are REQUIRED to take multiple AP courses, they have no sports, and therefore as concernedmom30329 writes, it is very self-selecting.

    This is not to take away from GSMST’s accomplishments. But it is a unique animal. It was initiated by the Gwinnett school system (rather than being initiated by a group of parents with or without a company), and if you read their charter, you’ll find:

    “The Gwinnett Charter School of Advanced Mathematics, Science, and Technology (Charter School) shall be exempt in whole from all Local Board of Education and all State Board of Education rules, policies, regulations and procedures, and from provisions of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated other than the Charter Schools Act of 1998 that are in conflict with the provisions of this agreement.” (page 20)

    So, we have a charter school fully supported by the Gwinnett school system that has waivers from all requirements. It would be strange if it didn’t succeed.

    I just generally expect them to be in first place in every list, and then I consider the rest of the schools separately.

  27. Dare I ask is Lakeside the only concern here? Seems to me we would have as much concern for any of the schools in DeKalb County? There are other DeKalb County High Schools that are qualified to be ranked besides Lakeside.

  28. Yes, concernedmom, we have always had issues with the way US News ranks these schools. We know of several very high performing schools around the country that never make this list – as US News is looking at access to AP courses especially for minorities – as their singular mission. That said, Lakeside has historically always made this list and it was shocking to see them drop off. However, as an earlier contributor stated, Lakeside missed the deadline to send in their data (due to their construction project) which is a whole ‘nother concern.

  29. Also – if you’re going to make excuses for the Gwinnett Tech school as being self-selected, you must also apply that caveat to our own DeKalb School of the Arts – ranked #25 on the US News list — a magnet program requiring application, certain test scores as well as a portfolio or tryout for admission.


    Same for Chamblee HS, ranked #317 which is a magnet, in part.

    That’s why Lakeside was always highly praised for making the list – the school is in no way a magnet or specialty program whatsoever.

  30. @Denise — it’s not that we’re unconcerned about other schools – it’s that Lakeside has made this list for many years and has used the bragging rights considerably. That said, are these other schools applying? Your principal has to submit the paperwork to be considered.

  31. Just a Mom says:

    @ShoeShee, my child is actually a peer tutor who has gone faithfully at 7:30 in the morning once a week for almost 2 years. The student assigned to my child has shown up about half the time. Again I say, there is an opportunity for that child to receive free assistance, but you have to care enough to get out of bed a half hour earlier.

  32. @Kim — Absolutely correct! And FWIW, at least they have started to look at the number who at least pass an exam. For years it was only based on how many took the AP classes! Like I said, we’ve always had a problem with this list. It doesn’t tell us much – except that certain schools understand how to gain some good PR… In fact, I would say that Cross Keys is exactly the kind of school that should rank well on this list – given the true diversity of the place. Perhaps the CK principal is just not adept at properly filling out the application? Or, perhaps no one at CK really cares if they make the list at all… you DO have to fill out quite the application. It takes some effort.

  33. ShooShee says:

    @Mom: That’s good to hear that your child showed up. All I’m saying is that nobody did when my child signed up for the help and was assigned a tutor as well as told when to meet with the teacher. Too bad my child wasn’t assigned to your child! Sounds like they were the only ones who showed up religiously.

  34. A Very Concerned Parent says:

    Guess more news will hit the fan about the Lithonia High School incident, where the Leadership was aware! Hmmm, makes you wonder really is this leadership really worthy of my kids attending this school…. SMH! I’m sure more will be revealed and exposed in due time. It’s very sad when a great Teacher that kids admire and look up too, has to go through such drama, when does this kind of nonsense end?!!! People speak up and be heard, We need positive people that will lead our kids in the right direction and I totally agree Mr. Madison is that person. I’m very disgusted with the situation and that my child won’t have such a gentleman to lookup too anymore, due to negligence of leadership. This gentleman really attends to the kids and relates well with them and they lookup too him. No matter what happens you can’t keep a good Man down, I’m just saying…get more involved with your kids and faculty and you will know, who has your kids best interest . GoFigure

  35. hello says:

    This blog is too Lakeside-obsessed. FYI the Washington Post rankings are out and Lakeside is on it, although it is ranked lower several other Dekalb schools such as Dunwoody and DSA.

  36. dekalbteacher says:

    Following up on the issue of kids needing help and not taking advantage of it, which happens all over Dekalb: We have kids in high school who read on a third grade level. While tutoring can mitigate the problem somewhat, we need a serious intervention program to ensure that these kids get on track. Where are the reading classes? It’s not a Lakeside problem; that just happens to be where I work and the starting point of this conversation. I have taught at other schools, and the non-Title I schools act as if their entire population is prepared for success.

    We need to admit that–for whatever reason–these kids came to high school unprepared and are in need of daily intense help that we are not providing. We are too busy worrying about how many AP tests are given and passed and not busy enough rescuing those who are drowning.

  37. @hello: The whole county is too Lakeside-obsessed if you ask us. We are simply pointing out that the mighty Lakeside doesn’t appear to be much different from all the others anymore. And, yes, Lakeside was rated, as apparently they did submit an application. However, if you notice, the rankings beyond the top 2500 are all simply listed alphabetically, which is why Lakeside comes after Dunwoody. DSA is listed first on the GA list, as they placed 75th on the national list, and 2nd in GA. The ranked schools placed Gold, Silver and Bronze. The rest are either listed simply as Nationally Ranked with a placement number (DSA – #75, Chamblee – #317 and Arabia – #719) or not ranked, but listed as Recognized Nationally (DeKalb Early College) or simply just listed (Lakeside).

    The US News looks for schools that seek to provide a quality education to all students – not just the college bound – and that are successful with a diverse or majority-minority population – relative to the school’s mix. It’s about access and equity. They feel that the AP courses provide more rigor and critical thinking and are more like an actual college course.

    The methodology for identifying the Best High Schools was developed with a core principle in mind: that the best schools must serve all students well and must produce measurable academic outcomes that support this mission.

    If you’d like to know more, take a look at their FAQs:


    All this said, yes the Washington Post has a list of top high schools out now too. They use a very simple formula.

    America’s most challenging high schools
    America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates.

    This is exactly how US News used to rank and we had big issues with this method. To obsess, let’s take Lakeside again. Lakeside loses students in every new class, so that the number of freshmen is almost double the number of seniors. Yet, Lakeside encourages students to start taking AP courses as sophomores. So take all test takers (from 10th-12th grade) and divide that number by the number of graduating seniors (which has dwindled greatly from over 500 to about 300) and you get a pretty good-looking score! Add to this that AP courses do not have caps on enrollment like honors and gifted courses and it’s a win-win to go with AP. Not to mention, the College Board makes a nice bit of $$.

  38. John Dewey III says:

    Moderator: People are interested in the regulation that all employees file annually a report on relatives working in the system. Does this mean paid board members? Can the public can look at the annual reports on relatives employed in the system that were filed by Eugene Walker? (Nepotism might make a good blog thread)

  39. @Dewey: The old blog posted such a report in 2010. It could be good to do an update…

  40. murphey says:

    @DSW: “Add to this that AP courses do not have caps on enrollment like honors and gifted courses and it’s a win-win to go with AP. Not to mention, the College Board makes a nice bit of $$..”

    For the record, DCSD does not offer Honors courses. Cobb does, and actually offers 0.5 quality points for Honors courses.

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