Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA) ranked as the eighth best public high school in Illinois this year, far above its 32 spot in 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best High Schools” list.

This year’s national ranking of 261 was also a significant improvement over last year, when PMSA was ranked 1,044 nationally and received a Silver medal. U.S. News awarded the school at 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd. the coveted Gold medal this year, the highest honor it bestows.

Robert Morse, U.S. News’ chief data strategist, credited the school’s year over year improvement to its increase of seniors who take and pass Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Eighty four percent of PMSA 12th graders took an AP exam last year, and 76 percent of students passed at least one test, according to U.S. News.

“Bringing home the Gold is a dream come true for all of us as we are a team that does not rest on our laurels,” Bessie Karvelas, principal, said in a statement. “Every day we continue to push forward to ensure our students reach their highest potential.”

U.S. News uses a four-step process to determine the “Best High Schools.” The publication teamed with RTI International, a nonprofit social science research firm based in North Carolina, to produce the rankings.

The two firms analyze students’ math and reading performance on state tests, graduation rates and AP test participation and performance.

In its assessment of reading and math proficiency, U.S. News factors in the percentage of “economically disadvantaged students — who tend to score lower — enrolled at the schools to identify schools performing much better than statistical expectations, ” according to its website.

PMSA’s student body is 47 percent low-income, 94 percent minority, 39 percent male and 61 percent female. The school notched a 70 percent in both math and reading proficiency on U.S. News’ scorecard.

The magazine also assessed whether a school’s black, Hispanic or low-income students “performed at or better than the state average for historically [under-served] students.”

 “I am proud that PMSA once again made the “Best High Schools” list,” Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said in a statement. “This recognition reflects the academic progress that is taking place at D209 and I am proud of our faculty, staff, students, communities, and Board of Education for their continuous support and commitment to transforming our schools.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mispelled the name of PMSA principal Bessie Karvelas. This post has since been updated. Forest Park Review regrets the error. 


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