Northeast Tarrant

Area high schools make high marks on U.S. News list

Westlake Academy charter school, just north of Keller, will create a Keller police substation on its campus.
Westlake Academy charter school, just north of Keller, will create a Keller police substation on its campus. Courtesy of Town of Westlake

Fourteen schools in Tarrant County earned rankings in the 2017 Best High Schools List in U.S. News & World Report. Eight were in Northeast Tarrant County, four in Fort Worth, one in Arlington and one in Everman.

The top school in the county, according to the publication, is Summit International Preparatory in Arlington at No. 10 in Texas and 79th in the nation.

Westlake Academy came in at No. 43 in Texas, a big drop after placing ninth last year because U.S. News did not factor International Baccalaureate (IB) results into the rankings. Westlake Academy is designated as an International Baccalaureate World School for its commitment to the program throughout the campus curriculum.

“Although we were deeply disappointed that our IB scores and IB participation were not included,, we’re still proud of the work we do at Westlake Academy,” said Mechelle Bryson, executive director. “We’re proud of our students and our teachers.”

Bryson said school officials had expected their ranking to go up, based on their IB results. Still, they appreciated being included for their strong Advanced Placement scores, but the ranking is just one of many metrics they use to measure success.

The two main reasons the school encourages IB and AP participation is to help students get into the best possible colleges, she said, and to help them succeed throughout their college careers.

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to support the college readiness of our students,” Bryson said.

Of the comprehensive high schools that made the list, seven of nine are in Northeast Tarrant County.

Grapevine High School was No. 71 in Texas, followed by three Keller district schools (Keller at 115, Central at 149 and Fossil Ridge at 172). two in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford district (Bell at 168 and Trinity at 196) and Haltom High School at 180.

The other Tarrant County schools in the top 250 were the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts at 51, Harmony School of Innovation at 57, the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences at 134, Trimble Technical High School at 210 and Everman High School at 246.

According to the publication’s methodology information posted online, the International Baccalaureate Organization was unable to supply U.S. News with IB data as it had in previous years. Still, the charter school run by the town of Westlake ranked as one of the area’s best high schools. Some 1,925 Texas schools were surveyed with the top 12.5 percent making the “Best High Schools” gold and silver level in the College Readiness Index.

U.S. News uses Advanced Placement tests to determine College Readiness Index: the number of graduating seniors who took at least one AP test during their high school years and how many scored 3 or better, which qualifies as passing for most colleges.

It also includes qualifying bench marks of how well students performed on state math and reading assessments compared to the state standard and expected results based on demographics and the school’s graduation rate.

Westlake Academy officials aren’t the only ones disappointed with this year’s list.

Despite very high AP participation and success and getting 71st in last year’s rankings, Colleyville Heritage High School missed making the list based on state test scores for economically disadvantaged students, said Shannon Tovar, director of accountability and continuous improvement. While they passed at a higher rate than the state average, it just barely missed the threshold set by U.S. News. Grapevine’s scores were just 1 percent higher, and the school made the cut.

“GCISD is committed to increasing the number of students participating in AP,” Tovar said. “More than 70 percent of eleventh and twelfth grade students in GCISD are enrolled in Advanced Placement or Dual Credit courses.”

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland