Why Choose a School That’s Not Ranked in the Top 10?

by | Apr 20, 2016 | Schools & Education

Shaker mtg 1

Shaker Heights School District’s Scott Stephens, Christine Miller & John Moore meet the EA team.


Monday, April 18, 2016 – This morning EA staff toured Shaker Heights High School to learn what’s new in the district so that we have current info to share with our clients; executives who are being recruited to Northeast Ohio, or those who have just accepted a job in Cleveland or Akron.
EA’s top question for the district was “How do you respond to those who quickly dismiss your school because it’s not highly ranked in the Ohio Department of Education’s ratings?” Shaker Schools are not alone, our staff can name many excellent schools in NEO that never appear on the proverbial “Top 10” list. Here’s how Shaker responded to that question.

  • It is a mistake to use just ONE data point to rule an entire school district in or out of consideration. The Ohio Department of Education rankings are based on one test – you need many sources of info before choosing a school. Some schools spend an exorbitant amount of time teaching to the test regardless of whether those skills translate to life skills or the development of critical thinking. Shaker has chosen a holistic educational approach.
  • Shaker focuses on teaching students to develop a passion for learning through experiential skills-based learning. As of 2015, every school within the district is certified International Baccalaureate (one of only eight districts in the country). If you are not familiar with the IB philosophy, read one of our earlier blogs on this topic which lists schools in NEO that offer IB.
  • Measuring What Matters is the Shaker district’s answer. They believe that focusing on rigorous academics, a vibrant arts and music programs, diverse language offerings (Chinese, Greek, Latin, German, French and Spanish), and the opportunity for  students to travel abroad each year is what matters.
  • Results for the graduating class of 2016: three students have been accepted into Harvard from Shaker Heights High School, more than any other public or private school in NE Ohio, 50 students were given early acceptance to The Ohio State University. Shaker students were admitted to every one of the eight Ivy League schools.
  • three Shaker seniors were named National Merit Scholarship winners ($2500) to be used at any accredited US college (only 15,000 given out this year in entire nation).
  • Shaker Heights schools leads the NE Ohio public school districts with the most scholarship nods this year, tied only by private school Hathaway Brown

EA followed up with another question, “Within a large district, how do you meet the needs of average B and C students – do they get lost in the shuffle?” Each student is assigned a guidance/college counselor who meets with the student  in the spring of 8th grade. This counselor follows that student until they graduate, advising them on course selections, college admissions/scholarships, career counseling, etc. The counselors know the students incredibly well after spending four years side by side and are constantly fine tuning their learning plan to customize it for each children’s needs. This kind of one-on-one experience is typical at independent private schools, but rarely in a public school district, especially one as large as Shaker (1,800 in the high school). Shaker’s commitment is to meet every student where they are at.
Our recommendation after spending the morning with the school district administrators, look beyond the ODE ranking which is part of the story! If you are considering a school, consider additional sources above and beyond the state test. Talk to parents, take a tour of the school, meet a guidance counselor or administrator, and learn about the extracurricular activities that are important in the development of your child (sports, music, arts, clubs).
If you want your out-of-town recruits and new hires relocating to NE Ohio to be provided with objective and unbiased info about the schools, neighborhoods and lifestyles available in our region, call Executive Arrangements at 216.231.9311.