Below are profiles featuring the top eight high schools in the Dallas Metropolitan Area. In order to be featured as a Top High School, the school must have a 2010 Education.com TestRating of 10 out of 10. The TestRating compares a school's standardized test scores for a given year with scores from other schools in the same state. Find your school and see how it compares.
Houston Independent School District
The success at Carnegie Vanguard High School is achieved through a strong partnership between the students, parents, staff and community. Parents are very involved on campus through fundraising, volunteering, recruiting students from middle schools, and hosting receptions for prospective students in their homes. The faculty and staff go above the call of duty by volunteering their lunch hours and after school to sponsor clubs and provide extra help to kids. The school also offers a variety of challenging courses, including AP and honors courses.
By partnering with a local theater, the school has provided drama students with exposure and high quality facilities. The school will be soon moving to a new facility in an urban setting to increase availability to students and the community. The school recently began a competitive sports team and has several teams to choose from. Students all have an opportunity to play on these teams.
“This is my seventh year as principal and I am very pleased and honored to be able to work with such dedicated individuals as my students the students, parents, faculty, and staff,” said Ramon Moss, principal.
Houston Independent School District
Students at Challenge Early College High School focus on the “new” 3 R’s - relationship, relevance, and rigor. The school was the first early college school in Texas and is a charter in the Houston School District. Over 90 percent of the courses are dual enrollment at local colleges and 1/3 of the students graduate with an Associates of Arts or Associates of Science degree in addition to a high school diploma.
Students meet in advisory group four days a week and seniors often facilitate the advisory. On Fridays, the schedule allows for an hour class period for clubs and organizations to meet.
The school offers some athletics and has been successful in girl's and boy's soccer. Students can also participate in clubs, such as several community service clubs, NHS, and Urban Debate League.
“Once you have a relationship with the student and have built in relevance, you can hit them with rigor. We try to promote the student as much as possible and make them as self sufficient as possible,” said Justin G. Fuentes, Principal.
Houston Independent School District
If you go into the cafeteria at Debakey High School for Health Professionals, you might hear a student talking about how she saw a baby born in her morning class, or a group of students passionately discussing calculus. The magnet school, located in the Texas Medical Center, focuses on providing students with an understanding of health related careers and preparing them for college and graduate school. The diverse school has a study body that represents over 50 countries, and students benefit from the social education as much as the academic one.
Through a partnership with Baylor University, up to 10 students are selected for admission and a scholarship to Baylor Medical School after college graduation. Many students complete their mandatory 100 community service hours in the medical field, and students often volunteer more than the required amount.
Each student is required to take AP Calculus and an AP science class for graduation, in addition to having other AP courses as an option. During junior year, classes visit various medical centers to observe professionals at work, and as a senior, students shadow a medical professional for four to twelve hours each week.
“Dr. Michael Debakey, the heart surgeon who pioneered the heart transplant, founded the school and continues to be the heart, soul, and inspiration of the school,” said Linda Lazenby, Principal.
Houston Independent School District
Each student who graduates from Eastwood Academy heads to college, and many are the first in their family to attend a post secondary institution. The school is an internal charter in the Houston ISD District and serves an inner city population. The school provides academic instruction, mentoring, and resources to ensure that each student is college-bound. Staff works closely with parents to educate them about college and keep them involved in the school.
Since many students have limited language skills, the school focuses heavily on reading and has required reading outside of classes. The AP program is a source of pride at the school and Eastwood Academy is in the process of applying for the IB program.
All juniors and seniors attend SAT preparation classes and the school assists with exam fees when necessary. A college coordinator walks each student through the application process and each student is required to apply to at least seven colleges. During their senior year, each student takes a writing sequence to write college essays, college applications, and scholarship applications. Through the Fantastic Learning Opportunity (FLO) program, nonprofits donate funds to allow students to take a trip outside of their neighborhood.
“We nurture our students so that they have no way escaping our expectations of going to college,” said Principal Rudy” Treviño.
Friendswood Independent School District
The student body at Friendswood High School is exceptionally involved one -- over 90 percent are involved in co-curricular activities.
Several programs at the school encourage students to help each other and build relationships. Qualified seniors work in classrooms to mentor and tutor underclassmen, and over 100 kids are trained to use “non-violent communication and intervention skills to prevent, de-escalate and stop mistreatment among their peers” through the Safe School Ambassador. The school also has an extensive Career Tech program that recently won awards at competitions.
Athletics play an important role in school culture and the school has won the state championship in their division for the Lone Star Cup, which encompasses all sports. The performing arts programs are very competitive and often win regional, state, and national honors. The school offers a Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Concert Band. The theater program also puts on several productions for the school and community each year.
"I think the key to our success is our teachers and their dedication beyond the classroom. Our teachers not only do a great job working with our students during class but also spend endless hours outside of our regular school schedule motivating our students to achieve excellence in all areas of the high school experience," Mark Griffon, Principal.
Alief Independent School District
Students at Kerr High School learn through a self-directed style of instruction that allows progress through material at their own pace.
Principal Greg Freeman describes the instruction style as “Coursework [that] is driven by learning guides called (PAKS), which allow students the freedom to move through a course at a pace appropriate for their level of understanding. PAKS emphasize group and individual study using a variety of resources and activities, multiple assessment opportunities and the development of personal responsibility by meeting deadlines set by teachers.” The PAKS guide students through a variety of activities, such as books, experiments, performances, and written assignments that support the overall concepts they are learning.
Students meet in large classes of around 100 students and often interact in smaller peer groups, similar to a one-room schoolhouse environment. The classes are similar to an online course with a mix of daily face-to-face interaction and technology. While the school does not offer sports teams, students can participate in a host of other extracurricular activities, such as performing arts and academic teams.
If you visit Performing & Visual Arts High School, you may hear instruments as you walk through the hall, see students dancing in the Commons, notice fine art hanging in the gallery, or see drama students practicing plays. The school provides artistically inclined students specialized training to perfect their gifts. The students simultaneously take academically challenging courses at the school, which was the second fine arts school founded in the country.
Students attend academic classes for half the school day and then shift their focus to music, dance, visual art, or theater for three hours. The school calendar has exhibits or performances most every night during the school year, and in the spring of their senior year, each student has a “capstone recital, performance, or show” to showcase what they've learned. Graduation for the school is held off campus and includes performances from students and graduates.
“Whether it is an academic or art course, teachers build relationships with kids. There is a connection because of the art that IS HSPVA. Our students AND teachers are here because they love art and education and they want to grow together. Our school is one like no other,” said Scott Allen, Principal.
Yes Preparatory Public Schools School District
Yes Prep is a Houston-based charter school with eight campuses that operate under the same philosophy, each implementing programs that work for their specific population.
To graduate, each student must get accepted to college and the school works to provide the tools students need for that goal. The students attend an extended school day and stay after school if their homework is not completed. The school has a strict discipline system and all students must meet a community service requirement to graduate.
To meet these high standards and expectations, students are given the support and mentoring that they need. Each teacher has a school cell phone for students to call if they need help, and teachers provide many hours of extra help to their students. When the students head to college, the school keeps in contact and provides any support needed.
Two of the YES campuses are on the Education.com list of top rated schools:
Rising freshmen at North Central Campus attend a week-long camp before school starts, which enables them to learn the cultural expectations of YES and begin to meet their classmates. As a reward system, students earn YES dollars through turning in work and participating in class, which can be redeemed on teacher sponsored trips.
The YBlazers, a student run video editing business, does work for the school and private companies, and earns around $50,000 each year. To help build relationships and celebrate successes, students get together on Friday in small, student led groups to share their work for the week.
“We focus on our teaching building relationships with students,” Mark DiBella, Principal of North Central Campus.
Students at the Southwest campus take a seminar class throughout their fours that covers different topics including SAT preparation and college integration. Students can participate in all sports other than football at school, and a full range of extracurricular clubs and performing arts programs are offered.
“We really focused on results and making sure that all students are supported and pushed toward their goals,” said Southwest principal Chris Claflin.
Please note that only schools in the following Texas counties were considered for this article: Austin, Brazoria, Chambres, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberry, Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Wallter