Editor of The Tribune
HARLINGEN, Texas - There are the football teams that never seem to bridge into playing the game played upstate. Every season, Rio Grande Valley high school squads have one or two teams that run roughshod over local competition. But when they compete for state championships in their respective divisions, they all fizzle against the bigger and faster teams. It's the annual exercise in grand and busted dreams.
A recent study of what the kids are doing in public schools undertaken by The Washington Post yielded some interesting results. Post reporter Jay Mathews has been tracking Washington-area students since 1998, using a neat Challenge Index that measures how public high schools are preparing students for college. The newspaper then published its rankings. This year, Mathews went national with his survey.
I'll use his words to explain his methodology here: "The formula is simple: Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors. While not a measure of the overall quality of the school, the rating can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college."
So, using all that, The Post ranked the Science/Engineering Magnet High School in Dallas as the best in the country, Number One. Number two was the Talented and Gifted High School, also in Dallas.
Alternative schools, some called Charter schools, did well.
The Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes grabbed the highest Valley ranking, coming it at #25. Another Mercedes school, the South Texas High School for Science Professions is ranked #32. Edinburg's South Texas Business, Education and Technology High is in at #89.
No other RGV high school cracked the newspaper's Top 1,000.
The findings are intriguing, especially in the face of Texas' decision to slash public school funding. The Lone Star State continues to lag behind the larger majority of the other 49 states in funding-per-student and in classroom achievement. Still, it is good news for the above-mentioned RGV schools that managed to gain a spot on the list.
Charter schools like to think they do things differently, and they do wonders with their spectacular teaching and curriculum innovations. But it's also refreshing to see traditional schools and their reading, writing and arithmetic, such as PSJA-North and Edinburg High School, do so well.
Unlike the football legends of the Fall, these are dreams fulfilled...