HARVARD -- Bromfield High School is one of the state's best public high schools, landing at number five in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings released last week.

The yearly rankings identified the state's top 63 high schools out of 352 total. Bromfield ranked just behind Wellesley High School and before Mystic Valley Regional Charter School.

U.S News composes the statewide rankings from schools that win gold and silver medals in its national rankings list., according to U.S. News and World Report. Nationally, Bromfield ranked #170 out of 500 gold-medal schools.

The national rankings are a mixed analysis of proficiency test scores, the academic performance of the least advantaged students and a complex college readiness index based on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests.

Bromfield Principal James O'Shea said the ranking is really because of the school's students.

"Students work hard, teachers work hard, and it's really nice to be able to have recognition for all the hard work they do," he said.

O'Shea said that many AP teachers work to keep the material accessible to students, but also don' try to overburden them with too much work. The school offers 11 AP courses, including earth sciences, biology, physics and psychology, he said.

O'Shea also noted the school's work in its science and math areas.

"Our core science and math courses are very strong, and our students come out with a really solid education," he said.


Now, the school is tackling the area of wellness -- over the last few years, the school has expanded its wellness requirements and brought on a wellness teacher, O'Shea said. The part-time position has now been increased to full-time for next school year.

"We know our students achieve a great deal, but we're also looking to develop a balance between academic achievement and mental and physical wellness," he said.

The school will also be implementing a Rape Aggression Defense course in the fall, which teaches self-defense.

Superintendent Joseph Connelly said Bromfield is usually right near the top in such rankings, especially in Massachusetts.

Bromfield's size is one of the reasons it does so well, he said. The teachers get to know the students extremely well and they work well together.

"We have a philosophy of teaching to the whole child," he said. "We look at the whole child and we try to address the child's social, educational needs."

The students are also extremely motivated, he said.

"As the younger kids are coming up, they see how motivated the older students are and what their success rate is, and it motivates each generation of students to do as well."

Over the past several years, 100 percent of the tenth-graders have passed the state exam known as the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, Connelly said.

In the English portion, 100 percent have scored proficient or advanced over the last few years, he said, while about 98 to 99 percent of students score at those levels in math.

Although Bromfield had a student-teacher ratio that was larger than the state average, Connelly said the school has a very workable class size. U.S. News reports the school with 767 students and 47 teachers.

But Connelly said that teacher-student ratio includes technical staff, which may create a higher number of teachers at larger schools.

"In Harvard, we have five to six teachers per grade level," Connelly said. "Our ratios will appear to be higher than the larger schools, but actually our class sizes are in the high teens."

The school's college readiness index -- which is judged on a scale to 100 -- is also above the state average at 66.4.

"I couldn't be more proud of our teachers and the face that their first priority is always to meet the needs of the kids," Connelly said. "The students are just a very, very motivated, terrific group of kids to work with. It's really very rewarding to be a part of."

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