Academic Magnet High ranked No. 27 of nations best high schools by U.S. News & World Report
Senior Olivia Coen feels thankful for the opportunities she has been afforded by attending Academic Magnet High School.
She will have taken five Advanced Placement classes by the time she graduates from Charleston County’s flagship magnet school, and she said she has been challenged and supported along the way by classmates and teachers.
“We’re all pushing each other and trying to help each other succeed,” she said.
That culture of high expectations and achievement once again has helped the school land among the top-ranked schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
The magazine published Tuesday an online list of the country’s Best High Schools, and Academic Magnet fell to No. 27. That’s a drop from the school’s No. 12 ranking in 2009, which appears to be the last time the magazine evaluated high schools.
The North Charleston-based school that enrolls students from across the county also ranked No. 1 in 2009 on its list of the nation’s best magnet schools, but it wasn’t included this year.
Principal Judith Peterson didn’t know why the school wasn’t ranked on the magnet list, and an inquiry to the magazine wasn’t answered.
Peterson said the school’s demographics have changed in the past few years, specifically its percentage of low-income students. Seven percent of the school’s students live in poverty, down from 13 percent in 2009.
U.S. News analyzed schools based on how their students performed on state tests, and it looked specifically at the achievement of typically low-scoring students, such as those who live in poverty or are Hispanic or black.
U.S. News also looked at students’ success in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses.
Peterson said she didn’t think the school’s offerings or quality has diminished since 2009; instead, the pool of schools being ranked has grown.
The previous 2009 rankings included information on 1,800 schools; the 2012 list expanded to nearly 22,000.
“We’re just competing against more and more schools for the same acknowledgement,” Peterson said.
She said she is not satisfied with the school stagnating, and she wants to continue to better students and faculty.
“I want to keep us moving in a positive direction,” she said.
Academic Magnet High ranked No. 1 in South Carolina, followed at No. 2 by Charleston County School of the Arts. The neighboring arts magnet school landed at No. 364 nationally.
Wando High ranked No. 15 in the state and No. 1,631 nationally.
Beth Parler, a mother of two Academic Magnet High students and president of the school’s Partners in Education group, said she was surprised to see a fall in the school’s ranking, and she is confident that her children are receiving an excellent education.
She said all of its students want to be there, were willing to work hard to get there, and are committed to working hard to stay there.
“I think that common focus is what helps Magnet continue to be in the rankings and continue to be an excellent school,” she said.
Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.