New Trier High School (Winnetka, Illinois) rates as one of the best public high school in the country--if not the best. The school's $44-million budget has provided consistent excellence in academics and athletics; state-of-the-art facilities; celebrated advisory system; 14.3 to 1 student-faculty ratio and the school spends about $14,000 per student,. In addition to a high salary, the faculty has enjoyed a merit system for 30 years which is virtually unheard of in public schools. Students can choose courses and set their own schedules just like college students. Critics say competition is oppressive and students feel inadequate in a highly competitive environment where students are categorized into five different levels of learning. Sometimes, pressure extinguishes motivation. For example, one student's standardized test scores ranked him in the 82nd percentile nationally but these scores put him in the 47th percentile at New Trier--slighly below average. This student was in level 2 classes, which students refer to as dummy level, and became content with C's and D's. In reality, level 2 is for average students (level 5 is the highest).
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