The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

CHS ranked best high school in Maryland

The May 2012 U.S. News and World Report awarded CHS first place out of 232 Maryland High Schools and ranked it 57th in the country for academic performance and preparation of students for college.

According to, a school must be awarded a national gold or silver medal to be eligible for a state ranking.

“The survey was based on, among other indicators, state assessment data and participation in college-level classes; areas where Churchill certainly is doing very well,”

MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig said. “Of course, these types of rankings certainly have limitations and do not indicate everything that makes Churchill—and all of our high schools—great places to learn.”

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Along with being the top Maryland public high school, CHS is also a National Blue Ribbon School.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the National Blue Ribbon is awarded to schools in which the achievement gap has narrowed and where students achieve high academic goals.

“Churchill is the only high school in Potomac to have received the National Blue Ribbon Award since 2007 because of our high achievement and the great work that students do,” Principal Joan Benz said.

According to an April 28 Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) article, 196 of the nation’s 3,125 large school districts saw a significant improvement in standardized test score results.

Highland Elementary in Silver Spring improved the Maryland State Assessment (MSA) test scores of a large proportion of students who live in poverty and students who do not speak English at home by a significant margin since 2009. Because of this, the AJC accused the school of cheating.

Principal Joan Benz feels the AJC’s questioning of Highland’s integrity is unprofessional.

“What is so sad is that they read into it,” Benz said. “How dare they make these observations. There is no validation of cheating, and this is irresponsible journalism.”

According to Benz, it is easier to raise test scores in schools that have more room for improvement because test scores will dramatically increase with the right resources. Schools starting out with higher test scores do not have as much room for improvement.

MCPS Superintendent, Dr. Joshua P. Starr, was also insulted by this cheating implication and strongly believes Highland Elementary worked hard to deserve their award.

In an April 30 statement posted on the MCPS website, Starr stated that Highland’s gains resulted from a motivated staff, administration, and the training, support and resources it needed to succeed.

Additionally, according to a May 9 Gazette article, the performance improvements were the result of transferring a successful principal from a wealthier zone to Highland who implemented new reading strategies with personalized instruction.

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CHS ranked best high school in Maryland