It's good to be a Kayhi King!

Signage displays a school motto at Ketchikan High School on Tuesday. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

U.S. News and World Report recently completed a data study focusing on ranking high schools across the state and country, resulting in the announcement that Ketchikan High School was ranked as the 11th best high school in Alaska, based on statistics like graduation rates and Advanced Placement course test scores.

According to online information from U.S. News, schools that receive a "best high school" ranking are "those whose students demonstrated outstanding outcomes above expectations in math and reading state assessments, earned qualifying scores in an array of college-level exams, and graduated in high proportions."

Of the more than 17,860 high schools ranked nationally, Kayhi came in the 4,078th spot, nationally, and was ranked the 11th-best school in Alaska.

Kayhi Principal Jason House learned of Kayhi's 11th place ranking late last week.

"It was a total surprise," House told the Daily News by phone on Monday. "They (U.S. News and World Report) do their rankings independent of involvement from the schools or school districts, so it was a very pleasant surprise for us."

The rankings are based on graduation rates, Advanced Placement course participation rates, AP exam scores, and math and reading proficiency ratings from the 2018-19 academic year, according to U.S. News.

 U.S. News data culled from the 2018-19 school year showed that Kayhi was in the 77th percentile of schools nationwide, with a 89% graduation rate, 42% math proficiency rate and 53% reading proficiency rate.

During that academic year, about 31% of students participated in at least one Advanced Placement program and 17% of students passed at least one AP exam, the U.S. News Report summary showed.

In all, 71 Alaska high schools were ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

According to U.S. News, Kayhi came in behind Petersburg High School, Mat-Su Career and Technical Education High School, Homer High School, South Anchorage High School, Cordova Junior Senior High School, Polaris K-12 School, Eagle River High School, Juneau-Douglas High School, West Valley High School and Chugiak High School.

House couldn't recall Kayhi receiving a ranking by U.S. News Report in past years.

"I intend to continue kind of digging into the data to see what's grown for Kayhi, to get us this recognition now that maybe we haven't had previously," said House. "And you know, 11th in the state is fantastic, but I want to be number one. So yeah, I'm going to keep looking for ways to continue to improve those metrics, like AP scores and graduation rates and proficiencies and so forth."

House said that the staff and students of Kayhi are driving forces behind the 11th place ranking.

"I think the best thing we've got going for us, really, (is) the people that are here," he said. "It's the strength of relationships — between staff and students, amongst the students, amongst the staff. I think that sort of collective mindset and that desire to see everybody succeed, I think that really provides that foundation, the strength that we need to be able to tackle and improve any of those other metrics."

"It's all about the people," House continued. "The honor really is a tribute to our staff and our students and the strength of our community, also."

With other Southeast schools — like Juneau-Douglas and Petersburg — outranking Kayhi on the list, House said it's time to set a new goal: "We want to continue to be better until, really, we're the best in the state."

"I see we've got some of our regional rivals are beating us on that list, and so we want to beat them in sports (and) we want to beat them in the rankings, too," he said.