NEW YORK, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas has the top two public high
schools in the United States with Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas,
ranking number one for the second year in a row, according to Newsweek's
new compilation of America's best public high schools in the current issue.
In the annual ranking, the Science/Engineering Magnet school in Dallas is
number two on the list, followed by Stanton College Prep in Jacksonville,
Fla., Jefferson County IBS in Irondale, Ala., and Suncoast Community in
Riviera Beach, Fla. Florida has two schools in the top ten and seven in the
top 25, and Texas has five in the top 25 on the list, which is in the May
28 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, May 21).
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070520/NYSU004 )
The schools are ranked according to Challenge Index devised by
Contributing Editor Jay Mathews: the total number of Advanced Placement
(AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests taken at a school and
divided by the number of graduating seniors. See the complete list of 1,258
schools at http://www.Newsweek.com. The top 100 are in also in the print
edition of the magazine.
Mathews writes that two education experts recently said it was wrong
for Newsweek to label "best" schools with high dropout rates and low
average test scores like many of the low-income schools on the list. "As we
note this year, several of the schools on the Newsweek list did not make
adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind law, though
that, too, is mostly a measure of poverty, plus the failure of some
not-so-poor schools to raise the achievement of their most disadvantaged
students. Readers are entitled to their own views of this rating system.
The Challenge Index is journalism designed to serve readers, like the Dow
Jones Averages or baseball slugging percentages-not scholarship," Mathews
As part of the Best American High Schools package, Senior Editor
Barbara Kantrowitz and Mathews look at the role of principals in making a
high school great. Good principals may seem unlikely superheroes-unless
you're a student, teacher or parent. They set the tone for what happens
from the moment the opening bell rings and can turn a troubled school
around with a combination of vision, drive and very hard work. It's a 24/7
job. "Schools aren't just about just reading, writing and arithmetic
anymore," says Al Penna, principal of Binghamton H.S. in upstate New York.
"School faculties now have the additional roles of mentor, adviser and
Principals also have to be politicians, crisis managers, cheerleaders,
legal experts, disciplinarians, entertainers, coaches and persuasive
evangelists for their school's educational mission. Add to that already
daunting list the task of statistician, thanks to reams of data required by
the federal No Child Left Behind law and local testing. "Sometimes I feel
like I'm drowning in data," says Jill Martin, the principal of Doherty High
School in Colorado Springs, Colo., who won the 2007 Principal of the Year
title from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Martin,
61, who, like Penna, routinely works 12- and 14-hour days, makes sure to
show up at school plays and games on weekends. Endless energy does seem to
be a requirement, as does a talent for getting the best out of a large
team. "It no longer works to be the dictator or the sage on the stage,"
says Martin. "You have to be a leader of instructional leaders. You have to
be someone who can really motivate people to go the extra mile because the
job of a teacher is far more difficult and complex than when I started
Above all, says Martin, you have to be someone who understands
teenagers' needs. Although the demands of the school have changed in her 38
years as an educator, Martin says kids are the same: "They still want
someone to care about them. The principal has to be someone who really
loves kids and understands what it takes to motivate teachers to change
every child's life." Finding those leaders is harder than ever, Newsweek
reports. Many baby boomers, who now hold the majority of the jobs, are
retiring in the next few years. Other veteran principals are leaving
because of school reform or restructuring efforts or simply because they no
longer want to do the work. It's estimated that in some areas, 60 percent
of principals will leave their positions in the next five years. That's why
there's a new focus on finding and training the best of the next generation
for these jobs, including recruits from other fields.
Also in the high schools package, Washington Correspondent Pat Wingert
also reports on the rapidly growing popularity of the rigorous
International Baccalaureate (IB) test in schools across the country.
Wingert reports that the growth of IB schools around the world has been
steady over the past 40 years, but it's been fastest in the United States,
where it is now in 758 schools.
(Read package and see the entire list of high schools and FAQ at