The top 50 high schools in Utah, according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Published: Friday, June 28 2013 12:29 p.m. MDT


This is a ranking of the top 50 public high schools in Utah — as listed in the Utah 2012-2013 educational directory — according to Utah Comprehensive Accountability System data.

Under the Utah State Office of Education's UCAS system, ratings are given based on scores from end-of-year Criterion Referenced Tests, which assess student proficiency in math, science and language arts, as well as graduation rates at the high school level.

Each school is scored on a 600-point scale, with 300 points possible in growth and 300 points possible in achievement. The state average, for high schools, is 399/600.

In the area of potential for academic growth, 200 points are possible in all students, and 100 points are possible for below proficient student growth. In achievement, schools are awarded up to 150 points for the percentage of students who are at or above proficient and 150 points for readiness, or the graduation rate calculation.

For further clarification or more detailed reports on individual schools, click here.

The first data under the new system was released in Nov. 2012, for the 2011-2012 school year. At the time, John Jesse, the assessment and accountability director for the Utah State Office of Education, told the Deseret News that parents should not take a below- or above-average score as a sign of total success or failure, but that they should look into what is contributing to the scores and what can be done to help them improve.

"Rather than make judgments, let's ask questions," Jesse said. "Is the school doing something to make that (score) happen?"

The list does not include schools that were given N/A rankings or used an alternative high school accountability report. It also does not include special schools and programs or charter schools.

Related: The top 50 bottom schools in Utah, according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Related: Utah high schools with highest CRT scores by weighted average in 2011

Related: Utah high schools with lowest CRT scores by weighted average in 2011

Related: Top 29 high schools based on 2011 graduation rates in Utah

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Lindon, UT

Glad to see my PG Vikings in the Top 10. Doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that Lone Peak isn't on this list.


I graduated from the #1 rated school. There is no way N.S. should be rated that high!
I received what I thought was a good education, prepared for college, was I mistaken. I had to take prep courses just to get ready for college level classes. I believe these ratings are skewed by teachers and administrators. By the way after many hard years, I received an MBA and became productive and successful. So there is hope for all students who discover the truth about their public education.

West Jordan, UT

Where is West High? They are always bragging how they are the #1 academic school in Utah. They are not even in the top 50.

West Jordan, UT

I was honestly shocked not to see Brighton, Bingham, Alta, or Jordan in the top 50.

county mom
Monroe, UT

Sevier School district must be doing something right!
All 3 of our high schools are in the top 50, South Sevier #12, Richfield #3, and North Sevier #1.
Awesome teachers, good work ethic, and, dare I say, intelligent students.
Kinda reminds me of region wrestling team scores?


Thidder makes my point - a graduate of the #1 high school in Utah has to take prep classes to get ready for college. Our education system in the US is a joke and our education system in Utah is a joke. We must fire the 20% worst teachers and replace them with better teachers. Our kids can't read because we hire the wrong adults. Raise my property taxes PLEASE!!!! My kids are in private schools but I'm happy to pay more in taxes now if it means my neighbor's kids will be better prepared for the real world in 2025.

Northern, UT

It’s interesting that Utah continues to compare themselves against each other, as if their students will only be competing against each other in college and later on in their professions. When they do this, they basically say, "Here are our best schools among the worst in our geographic region." Utah does very poor in their attempt to prepare students for national, and international competition. If only they would compare like schools, like demographics, and like students against their peer groups from across the country, or at least in the nearby region, they would see this.

Furthermore, if these schools continue to "hand out grades" because they are either too concerned about hurting the feelings of their students or too worried about their spurious evaluations, they will continue to do a dis-service to their students which means they will be further and further behind their counterparts when they have to compete in college or in the professional world.

Orem, UT

I'm glad to see the schools in Utah are improving. But it is important to note our schools are ranked at the bottom when compared nationally. We've got a long road ahead of us to get where we need to be.

Reasonable Emotion
Springville, UT

@Thidder - These ranking are based on standardized test scores and graduation rates. Neither of those could be skewed by teachers or administrators. If you weren't prepared for college, maybe you should have taken more college prep courses. Also, if you've gone on to get an MBA and be successful, then it sounds like a long time since you've been in school. I wouldn't judge the school now based on your experiences a decade or more ago. A lot can change in that time.

However, I'm glad to see it looks like not too much has changed at my alma mater, Timpanogos High School. I got a great education there (took many honors and AP classes) and felt very well prepared for higher education.

Provo, UT

I am impressed to see all three Sevier School District high schools in the top....I know some people from Sevier County. It is a pretty great place.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Why no charter schools?

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

You often won't find the normally high achieving schools on the list because when you have so many students already very proficient on their tests, then there is little room for the growth score to improve. I went to a training on how they calculate scores and.....well, it was the most confusing, illogical tabulation system that I've ever seen.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

Fred44, there are no charter schools on the list because they were exempted from this accountability measure--probably out of fear they wouldn't perform well.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Lone Peak not in the top 50. I find this list to be a bit interesting and probably improvement score too much a factor in the rating. Again, a faulty way to measure schools. I mean I think Lone Peak gives out the most scholarship money of any school, rating very high even per pupil, has one of the best athletic programs year after, one of the best performing arts programs year after year, numbers of students taking and passing AP tests year after year. I think this shows just how limiting CRT evaluations are. Again, many factors to evaluate a school. I checked out some of the bottom schools and sorry I'm going to rate Skyline or West higher for education just because they have well established IB programs that prepares students for college like nothing else. Also, how about Merit Scholars. That says a lot right there, which schools are producing the best scholars in the country. No offense to North Sevier but not even close. West probably leads the way by far, year after year in producing the best or top scholars in the country.

Carolyn Sharette
Sandy, UT

It is important to really understand this rating system. It is the best the state could do, but it is HIGHLY misleading. I am really glad they posted this list, because it points out that the UCAS system is fatally flawed - just like the earlier posters note, some of our best high schools are not even in the top 50, and we consider them the best (like West and some of the Canyons district schools) because students who work hard in those schools are often slated to attend the best Universities and they gain acceptance, where kids graduating Sevier or Richfield do so in far less numbers.

I wish the Deseret News would interview a statistician who would explain why the UCAS will always give us flawed info. I will give one good example why:

If your school is already scoring 92% proficient range in language arts, it is going to get all the proficiency points. But if, the next year, you "only" achieve 91% proficient, you are going to not receive growth points (which is HALF the score). So the best schools actually are not going to show up on this list.

Sandy, UT

Charter schools were not exempted from this accountability measurement. All public schools have UCAS scores. I am unsure why the Deseret News didn't utilize the charter UCAS scores in their calculations, but it is incorrect to believe charter schools are exempted from UCAS. They are not.

Howard hit it on the head: The growth piece of UCAS is weighted much too heavily. Schools that are highly proficient (what most rational people consider the "best" schools) are only going to get a great score on the proficient side, and low scores on the growth side (they have far fewer students who need to catch up). So West, Lone Peak, Skyline, Alta - all HIGH performing schools for proficiency - are not going to score well in UCAS.

For schools with high rates of proficiency (and therefore less room for growth) it is nearly impossible to outscore a mid-range school that has lots of growth room. The calculation the state uses is equal for proficiency and growth, which doesn't work at the high end. It needs to slide (growth weighted more heavily the lower the proficiency rate, less heavily the higher the proficiency rate.)

Springville, UT


Mileage may vary.

Your education experience, as was stated, is not the same as what is going on now. You may also be shocked to learn that you may have been doing good work for high school and being evaluated on that scale, not understanding when you go to college, you are expected to do more than what you did in high school---the sole responsibility of college success being yours. You probably had teachers who helped you more than you realized until they were no longer there to help you.

What you get out of any education experience is greatly determined by what you put into it. I had below average grades in high school, and it took being in the military to kick start my motivation to be a better student. One thing I know is that my teachers provided a strong foundation and it didn't take being a rocket surgeon to know I was the one not taking advantage of what they were giving me. I too, have my Master's degree as the result of my hard work, but I do not blame my teachers for not being prepared for college.


As a public school teacher and future principal, these metrics are mediating a thinning of courses across the country. A test is usually intended to measure 15-20% of a curriculum's scope and sequence and in courses like Science and Social Studies can only reliably measure factual comprehension (no critical thinking skills or inquiry skills).

Consequently, as teachers being held accountable for publicity like this article from the DesNews, we conform to the system and whittle down our course to emphasize (and drill) what is tested. Its a shame. Yet, in order to keep our jobs and our funding we have to play the game and I fear that our top policy makers are unaware of the void that we are building. Not only in low-income areas, but across the nation, as we continue to numb our students with centralized curricula that is fact-driven and pushes low-level mastery.

When investigating schools look for rigorous course offerings, high-enrichment electives (i.e. languages, computer sciences, yearbook, photography, etc.), project expectations for students, and writing and oral presentation requirements in classes.

  • 9:53 a.m. June 29, 2013
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county mom
Monroe, UT

By the way Lone Peak is on the list I just looked again.

county mom
Monroe, UT

Sorry wrong list :)

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Other shoes:

You hit the nail on the head. Teachers will be severely criticized either way. To me if you have students coming into your school with good basic skills, they should do well and good teaching will push them to the next levels of higher learning and beyond. If a school has many students that don't have basic skills, good teaching would get these students to improve drastically though many still might not make "proficient." Different schools have different starting points. Plus, I think there is more to a school then test scores. Do students feel emotionally and physically safe at their school? How are the performing arts programs? Athletic programs? Vocational programs? Other subjects not necessarily tested (there are other important subjects besides Math, English and Science)? Does the school produce national merit scholars? Does the school have a good share of its school taking AP tests? Is there an IB program? What concurrent enrollment options are available?

I didn't want to sound like I was ragging on North Sevier. It is a good school but a school like West or Lone Peak is going to have more options for students.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

WE are all being completely mislead by this new scoring system. Delve into it a little bit and you will find it is a complete mess.

Minority students and special ed students are counted twice in these numbers. The progress score really hurts the schools that have high achieving students to start with. The numbers are so skewed it makes no sense.

I actually attended a meeting where the district office staff was trying to make us aware of how this reporting would be done and NO ONE including the D.O. staff could explain it.

If you see the acronym UCAS you can pretty much throw the numbers out as being useless.

Cedar HIlls, UT

I have to second the above comments about the misleading nature of the new UCAS scoring. Each school is now given TWO grades, which are added together to receive a total of 600 points. One score is for growth (ie how did students improve from last year), and the other is proficiency- and that one also has an "improvement" subgroup (it counts the scores of low achieving students as HALF of that grade).

I attended a School Community Council meeting where our principal tried to explain this system to us. It took almost 45 minutes, and of the dozen parents there, several were still confused. Most of the rest were of the opinion that this new system is a disaster- and that high achieving schools were going see significant ranking drops...

Basically, if your school is terrible, as long as there is improvement (like 50% passing to 60% passing- especially if the growth is in minority/low income/struggling students), you will likely score better than a school who has a 93% pass rating that stays at 93%...

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

Sounds like a complete mess once again. Did this whole UCAS thing come from the legislature? It seems like something they would come up with. Doesn't make sense, makes some of the worst schools look like they are doing great and some of the great schools look like they are terrible. O.K., I just did a search for "Utah Comprehensive Accountability System". A nice PDF file came up and I read through it. Is this a complete joke? Seriously? Talk about a waste of my taxpayer money. This system does absolutely nothing to tell me where my local school stands. And yes it looks like this did come from the legislature's mandate to the USOE. Incredible poor work my friends. This has to be yet another attempt by our state legislature to make the public school look like they are a complete mess. They aren't but the legislature likes to pass this kind of garbage to make them look like they are.


Sandy, UT

The legislature simply said "please give us good data so we can find out how our schools are doing". The USOE is the group responsible for this terrible UCAS system.

If the USOE would contract with a good stats person, they could tweak it and add in some metrics that would tell us what we want to know.

For example, if a school is above 90% proficient, they should get a great score, and the growth should count less (because you are going to see less growth when 90% of the kids are proficient). If they are helping kids to improve significantly, but the school's overall proficient score isn't all that high, that should be clear in the reporting and the school should get credit for it. That is tricky, but not impossible. They just need a few hired guns who are super smart with regard to stats and we could use the data we are collecting to tell us something worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the USOE has an incentive for this system to be ridiculous. They are pushing back against the requirement from the legislature asking for data so parents can have a clue to how their schools are doing.

Salt Lake City, Utah

To all of you who say parents need this data to find out how their schools are doing I would like to make a couple of simple suggestions. First spend quality time with your kids talking about what they are doing in school, checking on their homework, being involved in their SEOP's, talking to your child's teachers and going to your local school as a volunteer. That will tell you a lot more about your child's school than any score of any kind.

For those of you who say you do not have time, I would suggest that if your kids are your most important gift, you will find the time to have those conversations and find a way to participate in your local school in some way. The USOE was given an impossible task, and this system has proved it.

Wasatch Front, UT

Four key problems with Utah schools:

1) Too many young, inexperienced teachers
2) Too many children per class
3) Too low of expectations for students from both parents and teachers
4) Too few students who are prepared for college in Math, Science and Language arts. The grade inflation is unbelievable.

Unless Utah gets serious about providing a quality education for the MAJORITY of students (a small minority are currently prepared for college level work), our children will be ill-prepared to enter the workforce, or support themselves or their families in coming decades. It will take money, focus and effort to solve the problem.

Sandy, UT

I don't think it reasonable to expect parents to know if their child's school is effective by visiting and being present at the school. Not because parents shouldn't be at school - but because there is NO WAY to tell if a school is effective by being there.

In fact, it is very misleading. You can have an amazingly positive environment, and still only half the first graders learn to read or do math. Parents wouldn't discern this by being in the school.

Data is important - even vital - but the USOE is not giving it to the public in understandable ways - probably on purpose because don't believe it is important. Parents deserve to know if their child's school can teach effectively, and you can't tell that from a walk-through or even by volunteering.

Just give the public all the data - proficient score, progress score - the public can understand that, and can make decisions accordingly. If my child needs to catch up, I'm going to want him at a school that excels at the progress score. If my child is a high achiever, I'm looking for a school that consistently teaches students to mastery and can push the proficient students.

Tooele, UT


I graduated from West High in 1992 and at that time I would have said we were one of the top schools.

Today? Just from what I've heard through the grapevine, it isn't what it used to be.

Providence, UT

Compare Utah's listings of its own schools with the annual national and international rankings provided by U.S.News, Newsweek, and the George W. Bush Center (Texas). Utah's schools are far from being anything like as good as the intra-state listings alone imply.

The poor per-pupil spending annually the case in Utah has caught up with us. No question about it.


To be fair, if you go to the USOE website and pull up the spreadsheet with all of the UCAS data, a list of who's top is not what you get. It comes in alphabetical order and includes every school in the state.

This ranking list is what the Deseret News got out of it by manipulating the data. It's been sorted to bring all of the high schools to the top, then by total score. All of the private schools were then tossed out of the equation, as stated in the opening explanation by the Deseret News.

This list is in no way how the data was presented by USOE. You could take the same data set and make a list of all of the schools just by proficiency scores and another just by growth scores if you took the time and list them that way.

Eagle Mountain, UT

These lists are too tedious. I know you want us to look at lots of pages, but clicking 50 times feels like user abuse.

Houston, TX

I too graduated from #1 NSHS. I think they did a good job teaching the basics but what is lacking in the small schools are the access to A/P or other advanced courses in languages, math, etc. Not their fault - just due to their limited size / resources. But a school that gives a solid education in the basics and teaches a student how to learn will usually trump a school that focuses only on the advanced courses. My first year at University was difficult and at times felt I was learning things for the first time whereas others said the course was more of a review. I still finished my Freshman year with a 4.0. I also went on to receive a Masters degree, have several professional certifications and speak several languages. A few teachers at NSHS taught us that we could succeed in anything if we worked hard enough - that was worth more than any other thing learned in school. Congratulations NSHS Wolves!

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