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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM)Despite the continuing turmoil in the Dallas Independent School District, a public high school there has been named best in the country — for the fourth year in a row!

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U.S. News and World Reports’ annual list of best high schools in the nation has the Dallas magnet School for the Talented and Gifted at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center (TAG) ranked No. 1.

Anita Narayan, the managing editor of Education at U.S. News explained, “The goal of the best high schools rankings is really to paint a picture of how well public schools serve all of their students, not just the highest achieving ones, in preparing them for basic skills and college level studies.”

The 2015 Best High Schools Rankings looked at more than 29,000 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with the intent of finding out which schools excelled in each state and nationally.

Narayan broke down the process to determine rank. “We actually evaluate schools in three phases. The first two steps look at overall student performance on state mandated tests, as well as how effectively schools educated their Black, Hispanic, and low-income students.”

The School for the Talented and Gifted has less than 300 students, but Narayan said smaller classes don’t automatically equal education excellence. “I don’t think it’s a question of just sort of enrollment size, it really is sort of what the mission of the school is and are they really doing more than just ‘teaching to the test.’ Are they trying to educate everybody?”

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Standardized testing has long been a point of contention with some educators and parents. Last year the Paris ISD Superintendent posted a letter to the district’s website saying too much emphasis is placed on standardized testing.

Narayan said standardized test scores are definitely a part of the Best Schools equation, but not all of it. She said it was the performance, not just the participation, of students on the required tests. “Keep in mind that at the end of the day these are schools that performed well on state tests as well, but what they’re really doing is going above and beyond in educating their students to prepare them for college.”

When looking at U.S. News ranking and medal status (gold, silver and bronze) the Lone Star State did well. Narayan said, “In terms of the number of Gold Medal Schools, Texas came in at number two – it had 59 Gold Medal Schools and was second only to California. But if you’re looking at percentage it’s another story — Texas actually came in at number 16.”

Texas had four schools in the Top 10, with Dallas’ School of Science and Engineering Magnet coming in 5th.

The top ranked Texas schools are:

  • School for the Talented and Gifted – Dallas
  • School of Science and Engineering Magnet – Dallas
  • Carnegie Vanguard High School – Houston
  • Lamar Academy – McAllen
  • Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions – Houston
  • Liberal Arts and Science Academy – Austin
  • IDEA Academy and College Preparatory School – Donna
  • IDEA Frontier College Preparatory – Brownsville
  • Eastwood Academy High School – Houston
  • YES Prep North Central – Houston

Click here to check out the complete U.S. News and World Report Texas High School Rankings.

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