Top of the Class
One Fort Worth high school deserves 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 Young Women's Leadership Academy is at the top of the class in Fort Worth. In addition to earning top marks for academics, the school, which serves girls in grades six through 12, is notably comprised of mostly minority students — 93 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 98.84 (or an A-plus in high school lingo). The academy has a 99 percent reading proficiency rate, 96 percent mathematics proficiency rate, and 100 percent of students took at least one AP exam, though just 57 percent passed that one.
The academy is the first public school in Fort Worth to serve one gender, and it first opened its doors to 150 sixth- and seventh-graders in 2010.
"The YWLA meets the needs of young women by providing an outstanding college preparatory curriculum with an emphasis on math, science, and technology," the school says on its website. "YWLA offers girls a dynamic learning experience that encourages critical thinking, inspires confidence, and nurtures the intellectual and social development necessary for success in college, career, and life."
In addition to ranking first in Fort Worth, the academy ranks 12th in the metro area, No. 32 in Texas, and No. 200 out of more than 17,000 schools nationwide.
The Dallas metro area dominated both the national and statewide list. Dallas' Science and Engineering Magnet School earned the 12th spot nationally and the No. 1 spot in the metro (and the state, for that matter). SEM earned an overall score of 99.93 percent. It also racked up 100 percent across each major metric, including graduation rate, reading and math proficiency, and students taking AP exams.
Dallas' School for the Talented and Gifted earned the No. 2 spot in the area (16th nationally), followed by Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School in the No. 3 spot (63rd nationally).
The next two Fort Worth schools in the metro rankings were the Texas Academy of Biomedical, 16th in metro, 41st in Texas, and 253rd nationally, and Harmony School of Innovation — Fort Worth, 26th in the metro, 84th in Texas, and 665th nationally.
Here is how schools in other major cities in Texas compared:
Two Houston schools 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.