NEWSWEEK: America's Best High Schools, 2007

Newsweek Ranks Public High Schools Across America: Talented and Gifted in

Dallas Scores Top Spot Second Year in a Row; Florida Has Most Schools in

Top 100 with 22; D.C. Metro (17); New York (13); Texas (12)

Newsweek Also Looks At Strong, Effective Leadership of Principals in Making

a High School Great

May 20, 2007, 01:00 ET from Newsweek

    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: )
     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 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
 quasi parent."
     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

SOURCE Newsweek