Independence High School recently received an announcement they are listed as one of the best high schools in Kansas and the nation by the US News and World's annual evaluation of public high schools. Out of 17,245 ranked schools, Independence ranked 4,806 in the nation and 19 in Kansas.

The ranking factors show Independence ranked high in five categories: College Readiness index rank, No. 7,593; College Curriculum Breadth index rank, No. 8,213; Math and Reading Proficiency rank, No. 7,021; Math and Reading Performance rank, No. 744; and Graduation Rate rank, No. 9574. 

According to the press release, Independence High school's ranking of 19th best high school in Kansas showed students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) coursework and exams. It went on to state, the AP participation rate for the school is 22 percent. 

The US News and World Report included a scorecard showing Independence scored high in student participation at 22 percent in taking the AP exam at least once, 64 percent passing the AP Exam at least once. Students scored 33 percent in reading proficiency and 91 percent in the graduation rate.  

Independence High School Principal Jason McAfee said, "This is the highest ranking I have seen the school in since I have been here in the last two years. Last year, we were somewhere ranked between the top 30 and 40 schools in Kansas. We have moved up in the US News and World rankings significantly. This is a really positive thing for us. It gives us a lot of recognition." He added when compared to the schools in Kansas who are above Independence they are suburban Kansas City schools. "It says we are doing a lot of things the right way," he said. 

McAfee points out the ranking is "heavily" determined by two factors: the social economic status of the discrepancy between the schools disadvantaged and non disadvantaged students. "We have a few more disadvantaged students and it plays a role in our ranking. However, one of the best things we do here is all of our advanced placement and college courses. When you look at what we offer at a school this size, (approximately 550 to 600 students) the advanced placement classes are lost. However, what is really impressive is that approximately 65 percent of those students who take the AP exam actually pass," McAfee said. The US News report indicates the Independence High School has a total minority enrollment of 20 percent with 54 percent of the students economically disadvantaged. 

Another point should be made that even though Independence has a high percentage of disadvantaged students they are taking the same test that is given all public high schools across the nation. "Our students who are taking and passing the AP Exams are the most impressive of this report," said McAfee.

McAfee made it clear this ranking of the US News and World Report is because of the efforts of the school's students, teachers and staff. "Although this is only my second year here, we have a really good staff here at IHS. I'm very fortunate to have them. They do put the interest of our students first. This is why we are ranked so highly in this report and we are continuing to expand some of our offerings in that area," he stated. 

The IHS graduation rate, at 91 percent, is higher than the state's average. "Although I would like it to be higher than what it is, it has helped in moving up the rankings," said McAfee. 

"We are fortunate to be in an area where so many schools are doing some incredible things for their students. But according to these rankings, we are the top school in southeast Kansas. I think that it has to do with the curriculum we offer. Our students are working hard and taking challenging courses as well as doing well on these tests. Everybody involved is taking this seriously," concluded McAfee. 

The press release stated US News and World Report believes this report to be the most holistic and comprehensive evaluation of US public schools that have been published. "Your school is part of the story because it ranked high enough to be called a 'Best' high school and display the US News Best High School badge.

Only the top 40 percent of schools earned eligibility to display a US News Best High School 2019 badge. These badges are widely recognized as symbols of excellence in US education.