Los Alamos schools climb in national ranking

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Education > District is ranked 556th out of 21,035

By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos High School made a significant leap in a national poll recently when it was revealed the school went up more than 80 spots in U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best High Schools’ rankings list.

In 2012, the school was ranked 638. In this year’s poll, the school is at 556, advancing 82 places since last year’s poll.

The poll, with help from the American Institutes for Research, analyzed three main factors in 21,035 U.S. high schools.

The first factor examined whether the school’s students were performing better in reading and math than average for students in their state.

Then they factored in the school’s percentage of “economically-disadvantaged” students, and whether or not they were performing at a better-than-average rate.

For schools that passed those two tests, the schools were then judged on how many “advanced placement” (college level) courses it provides, the variety of courses, how many students in the school are signing up for them and how many are getting a passing grade.

It’s this factor that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said was a determining factor in the school’s advancement in the rankings this year.

“Though I don’t know the intricacies, I do know that US News and World Report valued the increase of the number students taking advanced placement courses,” Schmidt said.

According to Schmidt, the student participation at LAHS is 49 percent, 10 percent more than last year, an achievement he credited to LAHS Principal Sandra Warnock and her staff.

“So what’s happening is, Ms. Warnock and her staff are increasing the number of AP offerings, and students are responding,” he said.

AP courses currently offered at the school include: English Language and Composition AP Calculus AB, Physics B and C, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Chemistry, Biology, U.S. History, Human Geography, Psychology, European History Economics, U.S. Government and Politics, French, German and Spanish, Statistics, and more.

“The more students take these courses, the better the school does,” he added.

If students score a “3” or better on their AP exams, then the kids get to claim a college credit for that particular AP course. Los Alamos School Board President Jim Hall said, “The credit should not only go to the high school but to every teacher and staff member who contributes to a student’s success in our schools.”