By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Vandegrift High School is ranked the 5th best high school in the state of Texas among traditional and STEM-ranked schools, according to the 2019 Best High School Rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
To determine the top science, technology, engineering and math schools, U.S. News looked at the top 1,000 public schools from the latest Best High Schools rankings, and then evaluated their students’ participation and success in Advanced Placement science and math tests.
“They are reviewing the AP tests from all schools and the ones that score the highest and have the highest participation on the STEM-based AP exams are ranked,” said VHS Principal Charlie Little.
Little said VHS has been ranked each year the STEM rankings have been implemented, starting several years ago.
“We have consistently ranked among the best in the state of Texas and national rankings,” he said.
Little said that being a STEM-ranked school is a validation of the staff’s efforts to prepare students for success in STEM-related college and career endeavors.
“The rank confirms that the instruction, curriculum, community support and resources that we dedicated to our STEM classes are producing recognizable results that our community can celebrate with confidence,” Little said.
Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin ISD was ranked 1st in the state among traditional and STEM-ranked schools and Westwood High School in Round Rock ISD was ranked 2nd in the state.
Little attributes Vandegrift’s success to several key factors.
“All of our programs and subsequent reputation at VHS continue to grow and thrive because we have amazing students, supportive parents, passionate teachers, and the Viper Nation Academic Booster and LEEF that provide resources to support our innovation,” Little said.
He said both Viper Nation Academic Booster and Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation have funded AP scholarships to help disadvantaged students take exams, ensuring access and success for all students.
“In addition, Viper Nation has funded our PSAT team, Junior SAT prep class, College JumpStart program, Coffee Talk informational sessions, Academic UIL, Naviance and teacher professional development,” Little said.
“Each of these has contributed directly to improving our performance on the key college readiness indicators including STEM, and overall college readiness,” he added.
“With this amazing community support, we will continue to see the growing impact of these important programs on the success of Vandegrift,” Little said.
U.S. News also has its “Best High Schools” list, which is made up of college readiness (30 percent), math and reading proficiency (20 percent), math and reading performance (20 percent), underserved student performance (10 percent), college curriculum breadth (10 percent) and graduation rate (10 percent).
So when removing the STEM designation and analyzing all high schools across the state, including charter and magnet schools, VHS is ranked 7th in the Austin metro area and 72nd in the state of Texas.
“Of course, we also celebrate our overall ranking for all disciplines as our goal is to ensure that all of our students are well-rounded and are prepared for post-secondary success,” Little said.
By comparison, Westlake High School in Eanes ISD ranked 4th in the Austin metro area and 37th in the state, Cedar Park High School in Leander ISD ranked 14th in the Austin metro area and 111th in the state, and Lake Travis High School in Lake Travis ISD ranked 15th in the Austin metro area and 113th in the state.
The top three high schools in the Austin metro area are Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Richards School for Young Women Leaders and Kipp Austin Collegiate.
The full rankings can be found at usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.