U.S. News & World Report: University High a top-10 school in Tennessee

Tony Casey • Apr 30, 2017 at 5:33 PM

Along with a 100 percent graduation rate, several other academic factors went into U.S. News & World Report’s 10th-place ranking for Johnson City’s University High School in Tennessee.

Dr. Troy Knechtel, director of the school with an enrollment of 503, said if any credit should be given for this accolade, it’s to the school’s staff, which both challenges students and contributes to its family-like environment.

“It's the staff, the teachers, the counseling and the way the school is run,” he said. “We have quality folks who are running the place. They challenge the kids. And that’s what we've been known for for years.”

University High has a 15:1 teacher-student ratio and is one of three high schools in the Washington County School System, along with David Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Knechtel has only been at University High for a few years.

That being said, he won’t let this accomplishment fade away, as it’s a way he can show the school’s past graduates how well it is doing.

The U.S. News & World Report ranking took into account a score of 41.9 on the college readiness index. Knechtel doesn’t care about readiness as much as he wants to make sure his students complete college. University High’s AP tested participation rate also hit 56 percent, with a 67 percent pass rate. 81 percent of the school’s students were proficient in math; with 95 percent proficient in English.

University High earned a 1,104 ranking on the national level.

For Tennessee, Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennet High School ranked 21st, boasting figures of 94 percent for a graduation rate and 29.4 on the college readiness index. Johnson City’s lone high school, Science Hill, earned a state ranking of 28th, with a 92 percent graduation rate and a 20.1 score on the college readiness index. 

Dobyns-Bennett has 2,091 students and Science Hill has an enrollment of 2,251, both with a 16:1 teacher to student ratio.

University High differs from other area high schools in that it’s technically under the Washington County School System, but administered by East Tennessee State University.

Dr. Bill Flanary, Washington County’s assistant schools director, passed a compliment off in the direction of University High on its achievement.

“That's a great place run by a group of true professionals,” Flanary said. “The average ACT score at that school is now a 25, which we believe is the second highest in Tennessee. Additionally, they currently have 26 students enrolled that have an ACT score of 30 or higher.”

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