Lisbon High ranked among Maine’s best

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Lisbon High School teacher Dean Hall talks to his class about former President Richard Nixon during class Thursday. Lisbon High School has been ranked the 22nd best in Maine, from among 122 public schools surveyed by U.S. News and World Report. 

LISBON — Lisbon High School has been cited as one of the best high schools in Maine and awarded a bronze medal by U.S. News and World Report.

Of 122 Maine public schools surveyed, Lisbon High was ranked No. 22 on a list of the best high schools. With 362 students, it was the only one on the list in the Androscoggin County region.

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But no one in the Lisbon School Department is breaking out the champagne.

“It is an honor,” Principal Susan Magee said, adding she was surprised.

“I welcome a good news story any day,” Superintendent Rick Green said. But he doesn’t put a lot of stock in the rankings. There are so many, he said.

“I do look at them, but sometimes it’s hard to calculate how their formulas work,” he said.

Most have the same Maine schools leading in all rankings, often schools from wealthier communities that have higher per-pupil spending. The U.S. News and World Report survey ranked the top five as: 1. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone; 2. Falmouth High School; 3. Wells High School; 4. Greely High School in Cumberland; 5. Freeport High School.

Aside from those with high per-pupil spending, Green said that a school — including his school — could be high on one survey and low on another, depending on the statistics that are used.

Just a fraction of a point on test scores, or how much money is spent per pupil, or graduation rates, could send a school up or down on a list.

“It depends on who’s doing the data collection,” he said. “There’s a lot of rankings out there.” Someone critical of his school could find another survey with Lisbon ranked low, he said. “We’re all over the board.”

U.S. World and News Report said Lisbon High earned national recognition for several reasons, including its four-year graduation rate of 92 percent, which is higher than the state average of 84.5 percent.

Also, 17 percent of Lisbon High’s students are taking Advanced Placement classes, and the high school’s test scores are higher than expected, considering the school’s demographics.

Green said his district has worked to improve the graduation rate by creating more options for students and offering students more help. “We had a lot of students failing or missing one or two credits withdrawing from school,” he said.

It’s paid off, Green said, adding that cohort graduation rates jump from the 70 percent range to the low 90s.

Veteran Lisbon teacher Dean Hall, who teaches Advanced Placement history, was pleased to hear his school got a bronze.

In his class Thursday, students watched a film about how President Lyndon B. Johnson lost credibility with voters for getting the United States involved in the Vietnam War.

While pleased his school was ranked as among the best, Hall wasn’t blown away.

“High school is high school,” he said. “It doesn’t make a difference where kids go. It’s what they can do, and what they want to do.” 

He added, “Our task is to get kids ready for the next step in their lives. I think we’re doing OK.”

Pull quote: “High school is high school. It doesn’t make a difference where kids go. It’s what they can do, and what they want to do.” — Dean Hall, Lisbon High School history teacher

Hailey Splude, a junior at Lisbon High School, watches a documentary about U.S. presidents during her social studies class Thursday morning.

Ben LeClair, a junior at Lisbon High School, watches a documentary about U.S. presidents during his social studies class Thursday morning.

Lisbon High School Principal Susan Magee

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