West Shore ranked No. 1 high school Florida


Recently, Newsweek ranked West Shore the number one public high school in Florida.

“There are four different periodicals [that rank schools]: Newsweek, Washington Post, US News and World Report and a combination of the couple called The Daily Beast,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “Each one of them has a little different metric with which they measure school performance.”

Many different factors are considered when these periodicals formulate their rankings.

“Some of them may weigh Advanced Placement scores higher, others may weigh Advanced Placement participation higher,” Fleming said. “Others may look at how those populations of students score on those assessments compared to the minority or poverty rate. So there’s all kinds of different measurements with which they measure. We were simply very happy to be able to finish at the top in those assessments.”

To decide their rankings, Newsweek and the other publications use a self-reporting mechanism.

“Those periodicals will send an ROI, a request for information, to the schools … regarding their assessments, which we get every year,” Fleming said. “And often times, we’ll submit them, and in a timely way they’ll put them together and in 6-8 weeks they’ll come out with the rankings. Sometimes, the request for information that they send to us gets caught in our spam filter. So we may not ever get the request for information, and then all of a sudden the periodical comes out we’re looking at it and we’re not even ranked. I think that happened to Edgewood and some other schools in the district on this particular ranking.”

Fleming says that even though he does a lot as principal, this ranking would never have been possible without everyone involved.

“I’ve been here for nine years, and we have great organizations and great schools [that] constantly reevaluate, reflect and reinvent themselves to stay viable,” Fleming said. “My job, as the principal of this school, is to make sure that I have every one of you guys creating the most aggressive, competitive college admissions portfolio that you can. I take that job very seriously, when it comes to looking at curriculum and looking at courses and looking at offerings and looking at what the colleges want to see on transcripts.”

According to Fleming, there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that students don’t usually see.

“Sometimes students will see me as the principal, and say, ‘well, he shows up in the cafeteria and walks around,’ but my job is to make sure that all the wheels are in place to ensure you guys are getting what you need,” Fleming said. “And when it comes together in the form of a ranking like this, it’s very gratifying to know that all the hard work that you do put in to put all those things in place is being recognized.”

Although this ranking is an honor, Fleming wants to make sure everyone stays grounded.

“While I’m very happy about the ranking, we have to be realistic about all of those factors that are outside of our control sometimes,” he said. “We’re just happy that we got all of our information in and they got it right, and we finished first.”

The recipe for success, according to Fleming, is an amazing core of teachers, a gifted and motivated group of students and supportive parents.

“I mean, my job’s important, but when it comes to the rubber hitting the road, those are the things that really matter,” he said.
Overall Fleming says that it is a big deal for the school.

“Whenever you’re on the headlines of your local newspaper, and you’re being recognized as the first school in the state, that information travels really far and wide,” he said. “I actually got accolades from my brother, who lives in Gainesville, and my dad in California, so it not only makes local news, it makes national news. I feel like a very proud dad.”