Central High School Named Nation’s Most Diverse

No one group dominates at the historically high-achieving Philadelphia public school, according to a new national ranking.

"WTP B26 Audrey 1" by See below - Wiki Takes Philadelphia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

WTP B26 Audrey 1” by Wiki Takes Philadelphia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Not only is Philadelphia’s Central High School one of the top high schools in the city, the region and the state of Pennsylvania, it’s also the most diverse high school in the nation.

This honor was bestowed on the school by Niche.com, a school-rating website that annually produces lists of the top high schools in the country on various metrics.

Niche released its “2016 Most Diverse Public High Schools in the Country” list today, and topping that list was Central High.

Niche arrived at that ranking based on data on nearly 24,000 public high schools in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics, along with parent and student reports on individual schools supplied by Niche users. The percentage of students making up the most represented ethnic group at the school counted toward 45 percent of the ranking, with lower numbers scoring higher; at Central, that number was 30, which is both the percentage of Asian students at the school and the percentage of African-American students. White students make up 25 percent of the student body, Hispanic students account for 8 percent, and multiracial students 3 percent.

Income diversity is represented by the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, which made up 20 percent of the final ranking. Almost half of the students at Central — 49.1 percent, to be specific — qualify. The closer a school is to the national mean, the higher it places in the Niche rankings.

Self-reporting accounted for the remaining 35 percent, and Central parents and students both give the school very high marks. The school earned an A-plus grade from Niche in the Student Culture and Diversity category, with 31 of the 57 respondents who rated the school on this factor giving it the top score of 5; its overall average was 4.5. Respondents praised the wide variety of clubs the school offers and the absence of pressure to conform to a particular standard of culture or behavior.

The 2,311-student school in the city’s Logan section also earns high marks from Niche in other categories, including academics. Overall, Niche rates it the 12th-best school in Pennsylvania and the 9th best in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Follow Sandy Smith on Twitter.