U.S. News and World Report: DISD Has Two of Top Three High Schools in the Country

talented-and-gifted-hs.jpg
School for the Talented and Gifted
Two Dallas high schools -- the School for the Talented and Gifted and the School of Science and Engineering Magnet -- didn't just survive the multi-stage culling process U.S. News and World Report used to arrive at a list of the country's 97 cream-of-the-crop schools. They snagged two of the top three slots.

Alongside the American Institutes for Research, USNWR analyzed data from nearly 22,000 schools in 49 states (except Nebraska, which didn't provide enough data).
They set benchmarks for performance on state proficiency tests; preparedness for college-level work; and proportion of "economically disadvantaged" students bucking performance expectations.

The schools that remained were judged by the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and participating in International Baccalaureate curricula. Whittled down to just under 5,000 of the highest-performing high schools, they were placed on a college-readiness continuum. Talented and Gifted took the first place slot; Science and Engineering Magnet took the third.

Highland Park High School came in 92nd. Peak Preparatory placed 66th. Overall, Dallas landed four high schools on the list of Texas' top 10.


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28 comments
primi_timpano
primi_timpano

I fear we are bogging ourselves down with the last century's model.  We have a system designed to graduate kids from high school on the flawed premise that either (1) high school will prepare the kid to be economically sustainable, or (2) high school will prepare the student for college, the completion of which will make her or him even more economically sustainable.  Everyone who qualifies for option 2 gets to get student loans and tries to get an education.  Unfortunately most of these college graduates will discover they have not developed skills that can translate into income and service their loans.  They are financially underwater at age 22.

In Europe, you have to qualify to get into high school.  Since high school only has intelligent motivated kids, they get quite a good education and those who qualify for college generally do quite well.  Those who do not qualify for high school are trained to learn economically sustainable skills.  I'm sure I am over simplifying this, but the message is clear, the path to a college education should not be a right, but a privilege given to those who can best optimize a college education.  In Europe they don't loan these kids money to go to college, they give them money, not because they are socialists, but because it is a good investment in their economies.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Yes, lets all gaze in slack-jawed wonder at the shiny baubles and forget the 43 UA schools we have.  Paul and DISD Teacher have it right, fix the REST of the schools in the district to serve the needs of the students, not the desires of their parents/community/POTUS, and then we'll have something to be proud of.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Dallas ISD is to be congratulated for this success, and for the transparency available through the data packets on the Data Portal at https://mydata.dallasisd.org/S... studying this data for these specific schools you can see that the Science and Engineering Magnet (SEM) is especially to be congratulated as they most closely resemble DISD. Less than half the students accepted into SEM come from outside DISD when compared with the TAG Magnet. A higher proportion of SEM students are from within DISD, products of other DISD schools. While the proportion of White students in SEM was almost three times that of DISD, which is only 4.5% according to current enrollment, it was less than one third the proportion of the TAG Magnet. We can be most proud of the Science and Engineering Magnet because they are among the best in the US, and they most closely resemble the rest of us in DISD. More SEM students came from within DISD and reflect the ethnic makeup of DISD! Our Magnets should rarely, if ever, turn down qualified DISD applicants, especially when they have attended DISD for 8 years. There should be preference given for DISD students in the entry process!

The DISD magnet schools should not become finishing schools with unusual numbers of students coming from private schools and private tutors in Dallas, especially when qualified and motivated DISD students are being turned down in the application process.Congratulations go to all, but especially to the School of Science and Engineering!   DISD and Dallas can be especially proud!

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

How to Fix DISD and Benefit Dallas (2 choices!):

1.  Keep existing magnets.  Expand magnet model to 90% of neighborhood schools (kids have to apply and meet certain standards to attend).  Kids who do not meet standards will be sent to campuses where they can get remediation/behavior therapy (I am NOT talking about Sp Ed kids). 

2.  Give vouchers to every child who lives within DISD attendance boundaries.  Middle class families--with all of their spending money-- will stop moving out of Dallas.  Corps can HQ in downtown.  

It is the schools holding back every urban area in the country, including Dallas.Free the parents and the businesses from the broken schools and sprawl, commutes, and blight will become a thing of the past.

Anon
Anon

As usual, you have to look at what schools were excluded before drawing conclusions. TAG's accomplishment really is just that it managed to stay on the list despite being a school with competitive admissions standards.Public schools like Stuyvesant in NYC, Math & Science in North Carolina (those are just the first two that pop into my mind) are absent from the list. So really, what we're saying is that TAG is the best public high school after we removed the best of them from the rankings. Look, it's better than being lower on the list. But it doesn't mean we've got the best public high school in the country.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

It's worth noting that there were a number of other DISD schools who placed in the Top 1000, including Irma Rangel BTW,  the other Townview magnets and W.T. White.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Funny thing is that TAG and SEM have been at the top of this list so many times it would almost be be bigger news if they weren't there. And this is in spite of the fact that the DISD administration has tried to steal the jewels from this crown and pawn them on several occasions. 

DISDisgusted
DISDisgusted

Qucik!  We must close them before other DISD schools realize what can be accomplished.

chasd00
chasd00

I took a quick glance at a couple of the reports but I didn't see any stats about what the students did after HS. It would be interesting to know which colleges the graduates went to, what were their majors, and what they did after college graduation.

It's kinda ironic to me that #1 and #2 are on 8th street in OakCliff. I live near there, it's not really a bad neighborhood relatively speaking or anything just not what you think for the location of the top HS in the country.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

The idea we can't have both good magnets and comprehensives is a canard floated by Hinojosa and his backers to cover up their abysmal failure.  As I already pointed out, W.T. White and Skyline actually rate quite well. Why aren't our other comprehensives performing as well? Mismanagement from the top.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Thanks should go to Dr. Lew Blackburn, Trustee Eric Cowan and Dr. Kyle Renard who worked over the Easter weekend 2011 on a restructuring plan for Townview that countered the Hinojosa plan to gut the school. They presented the plan to Hinojosa on Monday, April 25th and under intense pressure from Trustees Parrott, Blackburn and Cowan, DFPE and Townview staff and parent leaders, Hinojosa quietly let us know on Tuesday at the Budget meeting that he believed the restructuring plan was viable and on Thursday, April 28th DISD released the following press release. These awards would not be possible today without the intervention of these dedicated Trustees and parent groups a year ago. 

***

For Immediate Release: April 28, 2011

REVISED PLAN APPROVED FOR YVONNE A. EWELL

TOWNVIEW CENTER

Plan Will Reduce Administrative Overhead; Add Teacher Positions

Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa today announced that a revised staffing plan from one announced last week has been accepted by the administration and will be implemented at the district's acclaimed Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center for the 2011-12 school year.

The revised plan was proposed earlier this week by parent leaders at the campus with input from trustees and Townview staff "The new plan meets our goals of meeting federal comparability requirements, reducing the amount of administrative overhead and maintaining the quality programs at Townview," said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa. "I truly appreciate the leadership of our trustees and parents from the school to present a plan that meets the two unique challenges faced by federal comparability guidelines and an expected decrease in funding from the state."

The revised plan will expand the existing programs by at least 5% more students, reduce the number of top administrators and administrative staff, and add 7 teaching positions. Each magnet would continue to have its own principal but the school's executive principal position, as well as other assistant administrative positions, would be eliminated. Teachers who are currently part of the Academic Center, which provides instruction to all magnet students, would be assigned to specific magnet schools.

"As said last week when the initial restructuring was announced, we have been concerned about maintaining our standards of service, particularly in our world-class magnet schools," said Hinojosa. "This plan accomplishes our goals, and our hope is that parents of current and incoming students to Townview understand that the district is doing everything possible to maintain the standard of quality at our magnet schools."

The Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center opened during the 1995-96 school year with six magnets: the Talented and Gifted Magnet, School of Science and Engineering, School of Business and Management, School of Health Professions, Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services and Judge Barefoot Sanders Magnet Center for Public Service: Government, Law and Law Enforcement. The six schools routinely are recognized by national publications such as Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, as well as being named Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

***

Guest
Guest

It's the kids that make both schools special.  It's hard to make a sow's ear from a silk purse.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

Two of my daughters graduated from SEM.  The eldest went to Texas Tech and is currently a Civil Engineer in West Texas.  My youngest daughter is attending UTD, studying Mechanical Engineering wth approxmiately a 3.5 GPA.  I remember that their classmate went all over the country.  Several attended MIT, UC Davis, Cal Poly, Cornell, etc.  Both TAG and SEM, along with several other magnet schools (Law, Business, Health, etc.), are in the same building there on 8th Street. 

Guest
Guest

When a school gets to pick the cream of the crop from the entire DISD, it doesn't matter where it's located.   

chasd00
chasd00

oops I meant #1 and #3

Cowgirlballerina
Cowgirlballerina

Or maybe they don't rank quite as well because of their student populations. That's something that's worth considering. I agree, send the lazy, misbehaving, unmotivated kids to a school all by themselves and you'll see regular neighborhood schools' performance skyrocket. Allow special Ed students to be in special ed classes, which is a better service to them and everyone else. You can't expect miracles, though, given the current system of throwing EVERYONE in the same classroom and hoping for the best.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'm not suggesting we can't have both.  I'm stating that we have good magnets, which benefit a relatively small (and presumably deserving) segment of the student population.  We do not have good comprehensives, for the most part, and we don't seem to be making great strides in improving them.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Magnet standards need to be the norm at 90% of the comprehensives.

Comprehensives should serve on-level and above-level kids.  THEN the middle class would come back.

Currently, DISD parents can choose to commute to a distant magnet and forgo all that comprehensives offer OR they can drop their kids off with the thugs and slackers and the worn-out teachers who have to deal with the unmet needs of those kids.

It just depends on whether Dallas wants to keep the middle class and the money they will spend and the businesses they will support.

Magnets are great for a tiny segment of kids and we should keep them.  But we are ignoring a huge segment of kids and driving parents out of Dallas by not fixing the comprehensives.  Only the charter operators like this arrangement.

Anon
Anon

then it means a lot less than some people want to think. sorry but Stuyvesant is a better school than TAG.

Paul
Paul

What?  Are you thinking that this where all the men are handsome, the women beautiful and all of the children are above average?

Face it, the sooner we recognize that different children have different abilities, and GASP OH GASP that some are smarter than others and we start teaching to the child's abilities the better off we will all be.

Not every child is going to be a Nobel Laureate later in life.  Face it, some children give a box of rocks a good name; and, Lord knows, some how I managed to teach some of them how to read and write.

It is also time that we recognize that DISD must address the educational needs of the above average children, just as DISD recognizes the above average physical capabilities of the children that participate in the organized sports programs, you know ... such as football.

If the best 100 or so physically fit and skilled children at a high school can benefit from a specialized athletic program, why cannot the best 100 or so intellectually fit and skilled children benefit from a specialized education program.

As long as DISD teaches to the lowest common denominator, there will be a strong demand for charter schools and private schools which stress educational rigor in their programs.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Well put about the lazy and unmotivated and misbehaving students' effect on schools.-Their presence drives away good parents and good kids-Their presence drives away good teachers who are tired of being blamed for the student's low performance

The trustees refuse to deal with this issue.  We don't need millions of dollars and endless programs and whipping of teachers to fix DISD.  We need the trustees and all the Dallas Citizens Cartel people to listen to teachers and parents and get the problem kids off the neighborhood campuses.

Cowgirlballerina
Cowgirlballerina

I don't think the comment had anything to do with magnet schools being unnecessary or unwarranted expense. Obviously, they provide a great service to the gifted students of Dallas. However, it's not really fair to compare regular high schools that are forced to take whatever the community dumps on them and compare them to these magnet school who get to select from the best-of-the-best.

Paul
Paul

 I wasn't attacking you, I questioning the basis of your comment.

Your comment came across as that magnet schools are unnecessary and an unwarranted expense.  By having a magnet school in a so called "bad neighborhood" makes it more likely to attract above average children from a below average socio-economic neighborhood and possibly, just possibly break the cycle of poverty due to a lack of education.

On the contrary, by showing that successful schools can be located in a "bad neighborhood" clearly demonstrates that a successful school is the result of dedication of the students and faculty; and, parental involvement.

I am so happy that my grandfather made my father learn English and go to college.

Otherwise, I would probably still be living in a northeastern economic backwater.

Guest
Guest

I don't understand your attack.  I was responding to chasd0, who thought it odd that the best schools were not in the best neighborhood.  I was just pointing out that the neighborhood didn't matter because these particular schools get the cream of the entire DISD.  They are not neighborhood schools and could not accomplish everything they have if they were neighborhood schools (i.e. forced to take all comers from their feeder zone).  This isn't intended as a commentary on charter schools, alternative tracks for students, or anything else.  It is simply a factual statement that what chasd00 observed isn't at all surprising given the nature of the magnet schools. 

Paul, the world is not out to get you.  Your response is the functional equivalent of jumping at shadows.    

Paul
Paul

Well, a lot of tax money is going into the public education system and charter schools are part of that system.

It is time that we hold our school systems accountable for how they utilize our money and how they retain and educate our children.

What is your opinion on how the transient population and the illegal immigrant population affect these retainage rates?

PS: My post had nothing to do with student retention. I was advocating that we should provide appropriate programs to the children that have above average cognitive abilities.

After all if we are going to build multi million dollar facilities that are infrequently used for the benefit and glorification of a few students that a physically gifted, why is it so wrong to provide facilities for the education of children that are intellectually gifted.

My comment about the charter schools and private schools was that the parents of intellectually gifted children will send them to a school that develops their abilities.

Showcasing one charter with retention problems doesn't necessarily mean that all charter schools are ineffective.

I would be interested in seeing where the children go when they leave a school. I wonder if a child leaving DISD is more or less likely to attend another school than a child which leaves a charter school or private school?

bbetzen
bbetzen

But watch the attrition rates at charter schools.  They are loosing more students than DISD from say 5th or 8th grade or from 8th to 12th.  This is NOT just happening in Dallas, but nationwide.  Look at the research: http://schoolarchiveproject.bl...  

We need to look more closely at the data to see if they are simply loosing those students who make the scores of the charter school look bad.   It must be investigated because a lot of our tax money is going into these schools.

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