How successful are La Cañada Unified School District’s schools? Let Niche.com count the ways.
The website that publishes K-12 annual rankings again listed LCUSD among the top in many categories in its most recent survey data, which seeks to quantify academic and student life by using information from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from Niche users.
As a district, LCUSD ranks 182nd out of 10,574 districts in America and is No. 3 of 59 districts in L.A. County, according to Niche.
The district got an “A+” for its academics, its teachers, its college prep and an “A-” for its administration and its sports. But there is also room for improvement: It received a “B-” for resources and facilities and a “C” for food.
While the district’s high grades weren’t surprising, neither was the analysis of its facilities, Governing Board President Dan Jeffries said.
“The B- in ‘resources and facilities’ speaks to why we are hopeful that our community will continue their generosity to our schools in the upcoming bond measure election,” Jeffries said. “We have identified significant facilities needs as part of the Facilities Master Plan.”
As for the “C” in food?
“A little harsh,” Jeffries said. “The food served on our campuses is much better than my cooking, but that’s a pretty low standard.”
La Cañada High School is No. 3 among 315 college prep public high schools in L.A. County and, statewide, No. 19 out of 1,261 in the same category — which ranks the public high schools that best prepare students for college success by measuring graduation rates, Advanced Placement enrollment, SAT/ACT scores, state scores and the quality of colleges that students consider.
All of that is “wonderful,” said Principal Ian McFeat, who contends that such rankings don’t do justice to the true experience of LCHS students.
“U.S. News and World Report had us ranked the highest we’ve been in a long time, too,” McFeat said. “But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Come tour our school; I’ll take you and let you in the classroom and you’ll see the real story of what is happening. Our school is more interesting, varied and diverse than the numbers on a website.”
Even so, those numbers tell a pretty story:
Among the county’s public elementary schools, Palm Crest Elementary School is No. 4, La Cañada Elementary School is No. 5 and Paradise Canyon Elementary School is No. 9. Statewide, those schools are No. 23, No. 30 and No. 44.
“That is good news,” Jeffries said. “We know that we have great teachers, great students and great families that make for great schools. So it is always nice when an outside group also recognizes our schools.”
LCUSD’s elementary schools were similarly recognized last time, when PCR and PCY finished first and second on a list of the best public elementary schools in the L.A. Metro area (LCE was fifth). This year, San Marino Unified School District’s Valentine Elementary School and Carver Elementary School went 1-2; PCR is No. 4, LCE remained No. 5 and PCY is No. 9.
This is the fourth year Niche has released K-12 rankings, adding the category of county to the rankings for the first time. The only real change in the site’s methodology from last year is that it’s increased the weight that academics factor in public school rankings to 60% from 50%, according to Niche spokeswoman Jessica Hair.
Niche.com was founded in 2002 as College Prowler, a company that produced physical guidebooks about colleges. A few years ago, the company went fully digital and changed its name to Niche.