Three Dallas high schools deserve a tip of the cap (or mortarboard) after earning marks for excellence. On June 12, U.S. News & World Report released its annual Best U.S. High Schools by metro area, ranking the top public schools in each major city.
The Science and Engineering Magnet School is at the top of the class in Dallas. In addition to earning top marks for academics, the school is notably comprised of mostly minority students — 86 percent.
To determine the country's best schools, U.S. News ranked each school using six metrics, applying different weights to each category:
- College readiness (30 percent)
- Math and reading proficiency (20 percent)
- Math and reading performance (20 percent)
- Underserved service (10 percent)
- College curriculum breadth (10 percent)
- Graduation rate (10 percent)
Based on the above, the school has an overall score of 99.93 (or an A-plus in high school lingo). It also racked up 100 percent across each major metric, including graduation rate, reading and math proficiency, and students taking and passing at least one AP exam, which helps determine college readiness.
At the prestigious institution, students begin taking AP courses their freshman year, securing college credit long before graduation, and have opportunities to rack up more credits through local community colleges and universities, U.S. News notes.
"Located in a complex that houses five other magnet schools, SEM offers AP courses in calculus, biology and statistics, among others," the report says. "Parents can get involved through fundraising and by hosting college planning nights."
In addition to ranking first in Dallas, SEM ranks No. 1 in Texas and No. 12 nationally. In fact, the Dallas metro's best schools dominate both the national and statewide list.
The School for the Talented and Gifted earned the No. 2 spot in Dallas (and 16th nationally), followed by Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School in the No. 3 spot (63rd nationally).
Here is how schools in other major cities in Texas compared:
Two Houston schools also placed in the top 30 nationally. DeBakey High School for Health Professions ranked No. 17 in the U.S., averaging a highly respectable 99.9 overall. Like SEM, DeBakey earned 100 percent across each major metric, making it the third best high school in the Lone Star State.
Carnegie Vanguard High School earned the No. 2 spot in Houston, 24th nationally, followed by Eastwood Academy at No. 3 locally, 97th nationally.
Austin's Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy was declared the best school in Austin, ranking No. 28 nationwide. LASA, as it is better known, earned a score of 99.84. The Northeast Austin school boasts a 100 percent graduation rate and reading and math proficiency. One hundred percent of LASA students took an AP exam last year, and 98 percent passed at least one advanced class.
The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders was No. 2 in Austin, 137th nationally, and KIPP Austin Collegiate was third locally and 198th nationally.
Alamo City's top performing school is Young Women's Leadership Academy, with a score of 99.18. The academy has a 100 percent graduation rate and mathematics proficiency rate. Reading proficiency is at 98 percent. Though 100 percent of students take AP exams, just 61 percent pass, which perhaps accounts for the academy not placing higher nationally (it's currently No. 20 in Texas, and 141st nationally).
YWLA is joined by Health Careers High School at No. 2 in San Antonio, 165th nationally, and International School of America, ranked No. 3 locally, 491st nationally.